By taking the first European pro race of the season, the GP La Marseillaise, Samuel Dumoulin has confirmed that he's done everything right over the winter. Prior to the event, the Cofidis rider had doubted his current form and feared he may be over-trained.
"Until this week, I wasn't very sure of myself," he told Velochrono. "I had the feeling I lacked power. I questioned my preparation over the winter and I asked myself if I had made a mistake. In fact, I didn't take a proper break at all."
However, his consistent work over the last months paid off: at the end of a challenging 148 km-race involving more than 2000 meters of climbing and carried out in the fierce Mistral wind, Dumoulin outsprinted a group of 15 riders, proving his endurance and top speed are at their best. What's more, Cofidis' team tactics worked out perfectly.
"My role was to wait," he continued to explain. "We wanted someone in the break [Rein Taaramae - ed.]. I was well-protected and when the escape was caught, it was up to Yoann Bagot or Rémy di Grégorio to go up the road. I stayed focussed on a print with Jean-Eudes Demaret at my side." On the final climb with 20 kilometres to go, a selection of 15 riders was made.
"I knew I had to really watch out on the last climb after such a demanding day with the bad weather conditions," added Dumoulin, who now has the first European stage race, the Etoile de Bessèges starting Wednesday February 1, on his mind.
"I will try to win where I can. With my profile as an all-rounder, I will have some possibilities. A lot of races end in a sprint," concluded the Frenchman, whose biggest victories so far include one stage at the Dauphiné Libéré and one stage at the Tour de France.