Jean François Peucheux once playfully called him the worst climber in Tour de France history but Kenny Van Hummel swears he's a different rider than the one was repeatedly dropped in the 2009 mountains.
The Dutch sprinter hasn't raced the Tour since, but became a cult hero in 2009 with a mix of brave sprinting and spirited rides in the mountains. Often dropped from the gruppetto, he would be forced to race for hours through the Alps and Pyrenees on his lonesome in an attempt to make the time cut. The patriot orange army of Dutch fans adopted him as a hero.
"That's the past and I'm looking forward to the future now. I'm more experienced and I'm looking forward to the bunch sprints," Van Hummel told Cyclingnews at the start of stage 2.
"I lost 7kg so there's a big difference between me now and back then. My sprint power is still the same and I'm pushing the same watts. I'm in good form so we'll see what happens over the next few weeks.
"This year I did Tirreno and I finished quite easy with the main bunch and I was never in trouble. There's a huge difference between the rider from 2009 and now. I don't fear the mountains."
Weighing in at 68 kilograms, Van Hummel puts his new physique down to a regimented diet that he and his Vaconsoleil team have formulated in the last year.
"It took a year to lose the weight. I put myself on a diet and we've got a good dietician here and we worked together for a long time on it. I'm in form and I feel great. It wasn't that my diet was that bad but I was in a bad pattern. I probably eat more now but do it consistently. I've added in more fruit and vegetables too."
He may not win a sprint stage this year, and he may not be dropped so easily in the mountains but it's good to have Van Hummel back at the Tour.
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