The Dutch time trial champion showed his superiority over potential Rio rivals with his performance on the Tour de France stage 13 time trial
The Dutch national time trial champion won the 37.km stage in 50-15-14, with 1-03 over second place Chris Froome (Team Sky), 1-41 over Rohan Dennis (BMC) in fifth and 2-05 over Tony Martin (Etixx-Quick Step) in ninth, all of whom will be key rivals in Rio.
The course from Bourg-Saint-Andéol to La Caverne du Pont-d’Arc featured a number of climbs, much like the Rio course, and Dumoulin says this is a good sign, even if he is racing other guys who might be suffering day-to-day through this Tour.
“I think I am the favourite for Rio,” Dumoulin said. “I can not deny that after today.
“I think that doing a time trial after 12 days already in the Tour de France against guys that are suffering every day – I’m not suffering every day – is very different than shining on a one day event.
“It’s still four weeks until the TT of Rio. A lot can happen shape wise in four weeks, so its up to me to keep my exceptional shape right now and to maintain that, so that means I won’t go full every day I will picking out my days and hopefully it will pay off in Rio again.”
One of the extra factors facing the riders on Friday’s time trial other than the sheer difficulty of the course, was the fierce wind that was blowing through Ardèche.
A number of riders had already suffered difficulties throughout the day because of it, and Dumoulin switched out his usual tri-spoke front wheel for a 50mm deep rim with normal spokes to try give him more control.
Still, he claims despite the wind that he was able to reach 110kmph on one of the faster descents along the course, but did have a few wobbles along the way.
“I followed John Degenkolb in the car behind [in the morning] and I knew there was one moment in the race that was very, very dangerous and I also had some troubles there. I went from the right side of the road completely to the left, but I managed to hold it.”
Dumoulin showed for the first time last year that he has the ability to compete for the overall lead in Grand Tours, holding the red jersey until the penultimate day of last year’s Vuelta a España.
Seemingly, every goal in the Grand Tours is going his way right now, having taken the maglia rosa of the Giro d’Italia in the opening time trial win this year, before winning a summit finish in Andorra on stage nine of the Tour de France.
But he outlined early this year that his full focus would be on taking gold in Rio, with a Grand Tour GC campaign put on the back-burner for now.
“I’ve been asked that question already a lot of times,” Dumoulin said. “But winning with a minute in a time trial is not possible when you go full gas every day, so there’s a bit of perspective also.
“But like I’ve said many times before I will definitely be focusing on a Grand Tour GC in the future but I can’t already say when that will be.”