Tom Dumoulin (Team Sunweb) had a quiet stage 6 at the Critérium du Dauphiné, sitting up on the day's final climb – the Col de Beaune – to finish more than 11 minutes behind stage winner Julian Alaphilippe (Deceuninck-QuickStep) and about five minutes behind the main general classification contenders in Saint-Michel-De-Maurienne.
Dumoulin arrived at the Dauphiné following a crash on stage 5 of the Giro d'Italia, which ended the Dutchman's hopes of a second maglia rosa through a knee injury where the effects are still being felt.
An aggressive and impressive, but ultimately unsuccessful, attack on stage 2 of this week's race saw Dumoulin's chances of a high finish on the general classification all but disappear, but in turn took any pressure off of the Sunweb leader and offered the opportunity to fully recover from the knee injury and hone his form ahead of next month's Tour de France.
Speaking in a rainy Saint-Vulbas ahead of the start of stage 6, Dumoulin admitted he was still feeling the effects of the crash in Italy and would use the stage to rest his knee following some discomfort on the previous day's stage.
"The body is holding up," Dumoulin told Cyclingnews after the stage. "So far, so good, and [the knee] is feeling better than yesterday so that's hopeful."
Dumoulin's third-place finish on stage 4's individual time trial, which was overshadowed by the news of Chris Froome's crash and subsequent injuries, showed the former time trial world champion is still carrying the form of a Grand Tour contender. The question remains, however, as to just how much Dumoulin's injury will hamper his climbing in the mountains this weekend, and Dumoulin plans to see just what his body is capable of tomorrow.
"If I feel good. I'll definitely give it a go tomorrow. I hope to test myself at least one day in the mountains. I know my level isn't good enough yet, but at least I'll give it a little go. We'll see how the knee holds up. If it's all alright, then I'd like to have a go at it."
Following the horrific injuries of the three-time winner and pre-race favourite Chris Froome, the Dauphine's GC battle is wide open with two tough stages to come. Adam Yates (Mitchelton-Scott) currently holds a slender lead of four seconds, with the entire top-10 within a minute of the Briton.
A 19km ascent of Montée de Pipay, after three earlier Category 1 climbs, will finish proceedings on stage 7 of the Dauphine. The climb averages 6.9 per cent and will be certain to show who has the legs to take the overall and, perhaps, who might be ready to fill the void left by Froome's absence next month.
"It will be pretty brutal I guess, but it's a 19km climb at the end, so the [GC contenders] will probably wait until the final climb and we'll see from there."
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