Before today Tom Dumoulin knew very little about Green Mountain, the final climb of Friday’s stage at the Tour of Oman. He had checked the road book and seen it online, but as a debutant at the race, he had never ridden it. After that one ascent, he knows it better and we know more about the potential of this 25-year-old Dutchman.
“It’s hard,” he said, at the finish, catching his breath and wiping sweat from his eyes. “The whole climb was hard and with the heat definitely.” His fourth place, just 18 seconds behind stage winner Vincenzo Nibali, illustrated perfectly that potential, especially as this was his first competitive outing of the year.
In good position from the start, the Dutchman paced himself intelligently throughout.
“I tried to follow a little bit,” he explained. “I did not do the whole climb at exactly the same power, but I tried to. I was not able to follow the stronger attacks, so I decided not to do that.
“In the last two kilometres my power dropped down, but then I came closer to the front, so I think everyone blew up a little bit in the first heat of the year. I was never able to win, but I was close and that is good. After a long winter of doing only endurance and a few efforts, I’m happy to race again, it doesn’t feel nice when you’re doing it, but this is what I like, why I started cycling.”
Dumoulin announced himself as a Grand Tour contender at last year’s Vuelta a España initially out sprinting Chris Froome (Team Sky) in the mountain top finish at Cumbre del Sol Benitachell, then standing fast in subsequent days. With few team members able to help him in the mountains, he managed to keep the red jersey until the penultimate stage, when finally the pressure told and he finished sixth overall.
Despite such success, Dumoulin has stated his intention to delay any assault on three week tours until next year, choosing instead to concentrate on time trialling. The hilly course at Rio should shout his abilities and it is there he is hoping for success.
Before then, however, there are three time trials at this year’s Giro d’Italia, the first of which is in the Netherlands on May 5. Should he win there he will be able to wear the maglia rosa on his home roads.
In preparation he will race at next month’s Paris-Nice, where the 6.1 km test may be too short for him, though he is happy with his form.
It was an impressive performance on Green Mountain, especially as it is his first race of the year. With such form so early and over 50 km of time trialling at this year’s Giro, Dumoulin could well make the podium in Turin on May 21.