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Dumoulin: Vasil Kiryienka deserves his rainbow jersey

Enigmatic and gracious in defeat, the first words from Tom Dumoulin (Netherlands) when he crossed the line in the time trial to were praise the winner, Vasil Kiryienka (Belarus).

Dumoulin came in as one of the pre-race favourites having enjoyed a spike in form in recent weeks. However after a gruelling Vuelta a Espana– in which he lost the lead on the penultimate day – doubts over the Dutch rider's condition began to creep in. Fatigue and an injury that affected his comfort on the bike all shrouded expectations surrounding his chances.

In the end he finished fifth, two places down on his performance last year. Over the 53.3km course Dumoulin was at least consistent, never once dropping below sixth at the intermediate time checks but in the end he finished well over 30 seconds down on a podium place.

Adriano Malori (Italy) and Jérôme Coppel (France) completed the podium and when Dumoulin finally arrived at the press he was inevitably asked about the top three. 

"It's quite unexpected. Kiryienka has been close a lot of times already and I think he deserves this. He did a very strong ride and I think that we all need to congratulate him," Dumoulin said.

Kiryienka's performance was of the highest calibre. The course suited him and over the long flat straight he was able to put into practice the style and method of riding he so often displays for Team Sky. He was quickest through every time check, and won by nine seconds over Malori.

For Dumoulin though there was still a sense of pride, even if it was tinged with disappointment. He went into the Vuelta with no real hopes of a GC challenge but over the three weeks, and as he picked up two stage wins and days in the leader's red jersey he began to tap into his reserves. It meant the Vuelta was no longer about Worlds preparation but a race target all of its own.

"Mentally this was a really hard hour for me but I kept on fighting and I think I can be proud of myself. I had a little problem in an area downstairs and that's not an ideal situation. I kept on fighting."

"I didn't come here for a fifth place but in the end that's it. I'm just happy that I kept on fighting, and that's it. That's something that I'm happy with." 

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