Tom Dumoulin (Sunweb) says he can be satisfied with his result on the crucial Giro d’Italia summit finish to Blockhaus on stage nine on Sunday, but laments losing a key mountain helper for future stages after his compatriot Wilco Kelderman crashed into a stationary motorbike.
Kelderman was the first to go down in a crash that also took down general classification contenders Adam Yates (Orica-Scott), Geraint Thomas and Mikel Landa (Team Sky), breaking a finger in the process and being forced to abandon.
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Dumoulin narrowly avoided the crash with the motorbike and was able to ride to third place on the stage, 24 seconds behind stage winner and new overall leader Nairo Quintana (Movistar), and said he was genuinely “lucky” to have escaped the incident.
“I don’t know what this stupid motorbike was doing,” Dumoulin told Eurosport.
“I could only just avoid it, I only saw it at the last moment and I was actually just lucky. If I was maybe two centimetres to the right I would have gone down. They say it happens but it shouldn’t happen.”
“Of course my own climb was really good and I’m very happy with that but losing Wilco is a real shame, we had a nice group together.”
Dutchman Dumoulin will head into Tuesday’s 39.8km time trial as one of the favourites for stage glory and also to overhaul the 30 seconds he trails by in the overall classification.
But he’ll now face two weeks of crucial mountain stages without 26-year-old Kelderman, who joined Sunweb from LottoNl-Jumbo at the start of the season and broke the same finger in the crash that he injured in Strade Bianche in March, and now faces surgery.
“It is really frustrating to crash out like this,” Kelderman said.
“We were taking our position in front-left side and we needed to avoid the motor that was on the road. Tom just managed to go around the motorbike but I clipped it with my handlebar.
“This is a big disappointment for me, I felt really strong and it’s devastating to not have been able to help Tom some more with his great result today.”
Riders will take a rest day on Monday before the 100th Giro continues with the time trial on Tuesday, before a return to the mountains on Wednesday’s stage 11.