Tom Dumoulin (Team Sunweb) has vowed to go full throttle in the stage 4 time trial at the Criterium du Dauphine as he looks to test his form ahead of the Tour de France. The Dutchman came into the Dauphine on the back of abandoning the Giro d'Italia, and he confirmed recently that the resulting wound in his left knee still had a small piece of metal lodged inside it.
There is still visible swelling around the injury, but Dumoulin has come through the first three days of the Dauphine in high spirits. He finished in the main group on stage 1, and although he lost considerable time on stage 2 he was in a dangerous early break alongside Julian Alaphilippe (Deceuninck-QuickStep). Stage 3 saw him finish on the same time as winner Sam Bennett (Bora-Hansgrohe), but Wednesday's 26.1km time trial will provide Dumoulin and the watching public with the first true test of his recovery and form.
"I want to try and go for it. It's a good test for me," he told Cyclingnews and HLN.
"I know that I still have some time before the Tour de France and the Tour de France time trial. I've not been on the time trial bike since the Giro, but I've never had any problems in not doing work on the time trial bike and then getting results. I'm not worried. I hope to go for a good result, but we'll have to see."
A fit and ready Dumoulin would be considered a leading favourite for the upcoming stage under normal circumstances, but the nagging injury from his Giro spill is still a factor. He was forced to not only miss most of the Giro but also a training camp at altitude.
"I don't know about the stage win, we'll have to see. It's this nagging knee problem that's costing me energy, but I hope that I can go through it and if I can do that then I'll be good."
The metal shard inside the inflamed knee is still a distraction and one that is causing Dumoulin vital energy - whether through added treatment or the daily questions he is facing. Surgery to remove the foreign body is an issue but one that will only be decided upon once the Dauphine concludes on Sunday.
"It's a tiny splinter, and that could be why my knee is reacting like this," he said as he looked down at the left kneecap.
"We have to decide after the Dauphine if we take it out. That's a possibility, but it depends on how it goes here.
"It's not perfect, and it's not going to be perfect until the end of this race, and then we need to see where things are for the Tour de France. If I can get in eight solid days of racing then I'll be very happy. My shape isn't bad, but it's not the best, but I hope that I can take a result. For now, I'm just happy that the knee is holding up. There's still a big bump and it's still irritating me. It has been for the last two weeks, and it will stay like that if I race every day. As long as it's not getting worse I should be fine. It's a bit of pain but I can get through it."