Tom Dumoulin (Giant-Alpecin) will return to action at the Vuelta a España on Saturday but admits he’ll still need more time to overcome the physical and psychological effects of the crash that forced him to abandon the Tour de France.
The Dutch rider, who was fourth on the opening-day time trial in July, was involved in a mass pile-up two days later and suffered an impression fracture of the glenohumeral joint in his shoulder.
His injuries have healed well but, despite a decent block of training, including an altitude camp in Livigno, Italy, Dumoulin has not raced since the Tour de France crash and his form is therefore still unknown. Furthermore, he expects to endure a nervy few days back in the bunch before the psychological impact of crash clears, and as such will aim to come into his own in the latter portion of the race.
"I expect to be able to contend for the stage victories at the Vuelta, but after such an injury there is of course the question of how good I will actually be," said the Giant-Alpecin rider, according to De Telegraaf.
"I assume that I’ll still have to adjust over the first week, and also learn to deal with a certain fear that will still be with me when I ride in the peloton. In the second and third weeks I hope to battle for stage wins.”
The Vuelta a Espana's only individual time trial comes at a good time for Dumoulin – just after the second rest day on stage 17. The 24-year-old has won time trial stages at the Vuelta al País Vasco and Tour de Suisse this year and had set his sights firmly on the Tour de France opener, with the opportunity to wear the yellow jersey on home soil.
Naturally, he’ll be targeting the World Championships in Richmond later in September but the Vuelta is no mere preparation race. If the Tour de France has taught Dumoulin anything, it’s to live in the present and not to be too conservative.
"At the Tour I learned that you should harvest whenever possible. Suppose I hadn’t gone all out at the Tour of Switzerland, I’d have achieved hardly anything this year," he said.
"So you don’t get many opportunities in a season, and the Vuelta is one of the three Grand Tours. A performance at this level speaks very highly. In addition, I am glad that I can once again compete with the best. If you spend some time on the sidelines you only realise how much you love this sport.”