A mechanical problem during his warm-up saw team mechanics scrabbling at the last minute to rebuild his Giant bike. Unfortunately, it still caused problems.
“It really sucked,” Dumoulin said of his first time trial in the rainbow jersey that he won in Bergen, Norway, last September.
“No, [it wasn’t ideal]. I would’ve liked to start my first TT with different sensations. Especially because I was feeling good and strong.”
The rainbow paint-scheme lent Dumoulin’s Giant bicycle no extra power. After returning from a training ride, something had to be done: either he would ride on his new bike or his spare.
“I did the recon before and then my rear derailleur went into crash mode. That means that it can’t shift anymore in the back,” he added.
“The mechanics put the bike upside down and put a new rear derailleur on it. So we made a decision to ride it: my world champion’s bike in the time trial. But then it happened again in the switchback.”
Dumoulin rode the 12.6-kilometre course in 14 minutes and 52 seconds. When he returned to the team’s temporary camp, he sat dejected. Mechanics looked at his bike again. The team director said something went wrong with one of the shifters to the rear derailleur.
“Apparently it was a problem with the shifter, not the derailleur, or with the electronics inside, I don’t know,” Dumoulin explained. “Anyway, I needed to change bikes.”
The world champion from Bergen, Norway, finished 31 seconds behind stage winner and new race leader Rohan Dennis (BMC Racing). Dennis explained that he felt sorry for Dumoulin, but that he would have won regardless.
However, Dumoulin said he was on for a good ride. “I had the fastest time at the intermediate. I felt really good,” Dumoulin confirmed.
“I’m always a slow-starter so I really had something left. After that, it was pretty much done.”
The Abu Dhabi Tour ends with the Jabel Hafeet climb tomorrow, but Dumoulin said that he would go for the overall but, “It will be very hard to make a real big difference on the climb”.