Tom Dumoulin (Giant-Alpecin) is looking to win his second Tour de France stage win in this year's race in Friday’s time trial. Dumoulin has already won time trials in the other two Grand Tours and victory this Sunday would complete his collection. It is also a good practice run and form tester ahead of a tricky time trial at the Olympic Games.
The lumpy course from Bourg-Saint-Andeol to La Caverne du Pont-d’Arc should suit Dumoulin, but he believes that it is not sufficiently hilly enough to take some of the time trial specialists out of the equation for victory.
“Normally it would but so hilly that guys like Tony Martin, Rohan Dennis and Cancellara are out of contention. It can be good also for them but the hillier the better for me definitely,” Dumoulin told Cyclingnews. “I have only seen [the course] on a video but it looks hard, and it looks promising for me.”
Dumoulin has insisted this season that he is not targeting overall success at the Grand Tours and is focused on the Olympic Games in Rio. He has stayed good to his word and targeted stage wins, notching up one in the prologue of the Giro d’Italia. He already has one stage win at this year’s Tour de France after attacking his breakaway companions in the finale of stage 9 to Andorra. Battered by cold conditions and heavy hail, it took a big effort from Dumoulin. However, he says that he has recovered well and is feeling upbeat ahead of the coming stages.
“I feel good. I’m pretty confident for the coming days and weeks,” said Dumoulin, adding: “I will try to save myself a little bit before the time trial.”
Two challenging days in the wind won’t have made Dumoulin’s recovery any easier. He gave himself every opportunity of saving his legs for the time trial by finishing Thursday’s stage to Mont Ventoux 21 minutes behind the winner, Thomas de Gendt (Lotto-Soudal).
Following the controversy surrounding time gaps after fans caused a crash involving Chris Froome, Bauke Mollema, and Richie Porte, Dumoulin joked on Twitter: I was also held up a little bit by the spectators today. I think around 21 minutes. Can I get a time bonus as well pls @LeTour?”
As ever in a Grand Tour, the time trial will be made up of two distinct races, the one for the stage victory and the one for supremacy in the overall classification. There may be some crossover with strong time triallists such as Froome and Porte duking it out in the GC battle. It’s still tight at the top in the overall classification, but Dumoulin expects that to change by close of business on Friday.
“It’s very close together so far, with really hard days in the Pyrenees. You will definitely see some tired legs and some differences after the TT,” Dumoulin explained. “It’s nice to have a little advantage going into the Alps but I can imagine that Quintana will be a little bit further behind Froome, but that doesn’t mean that he can’t win anymore. It will be an exciting last week.”