Barely 24 hours after declaring his ambition for the podium and co-leadership with Primož Roglič, Tom Dumoulin suffered a blow to morale on the opening stage of the Vuelta a España, losing significant time at Arrate.
While Jumbo-Visma lit up the final climb, with Sepp Kuss shredding the field and Roglič finishing it off in the final kilometre, Dumoulin slipped back and conceded 51 seconds.
The Dutchman was distanced when Kuss lit things up 4.6km from the finish, clawing his way to the line in 16th place, in a small group behind the seven riders who finished with Roglič
"I'm disappointed, yes. I don't feel one hundred percent, I feel a bit tired," Dumoulin told Dutch broadcaster NOS.
"Did I feel that coming? I was tired in recent weeks, yes. I did a busy program after being out for a long time. That Primož wins is good - very good - but I'm disappointed myself."
Roglič's stage victory took him into the red jersey as overall leader, and the Slovenian, seemingly still fresh after his crushing Tour de France defeat, looks well placed to defend the title he won in Spain last year.
Already 51 seconds in arrears, Dumoulin, who sacrificed himself for Roglič at the Tour and Liège-Bastogne-Liège, looks set for another round of domestique duties in Spain.
"That's how we entered this Vuelta - we would see who was the strongest. That has become clear today," Dumoulin said.
There is little room for Dumoulin to recover or ease his way into the race, with more hilly finales on stages 2 and 3, plus the fearsome Col du Tourmalet summit finish on stage 6. Plenty more climbing awaits across the 18-stage race, which features just one time trial on stage 13.
"I'll Just do my best and we'll see. I started with that mindset. Unfortunately that was not good enough," Dumoulin said.
As for whether he'll make it all the way to Madrid: "I hope so. Yes, I hope so."
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