Tom Dumoulin abandons altitude training in further setback to Tour de France ambitions

The Dutchman decided en route to the Alps that he wasn't feeling good enough and turned his car around

The Dutchman decided en route to the Alps that he wasn't feeling good enough and turned his car around
(Image credit: AFP/Getty Images)

Tom Dumoulin (Sunweb) has been forced to abandon a planned altitude training camp in a further setback to his Tour de France ambitions.

The Dutchman underwent minor surgery to deal with a knee injury that he picked up after crashing out of the Giro d'Italia 2019 and has plagued him ever since, abandoning the Critérium du Dauphiné after struggling to compete for the overall classification.

However, despite the surgery being successful and Dumoulin completing a test ride after the operation and heading off to the Alps for altitude training, the Dutchman cancelled the trip before it had even begun.

"He called me twice on the way [to the Alps] yesterday," trainer Hendrik Werner told Dutch Broadcaster NOS, "he asked himself the question 'am I ready?' And he turned the car around."

However, Dumoulin's trainer thinks the decision makes sense, saying "Tom has had many ups and downs since his injury. That knee was good in the morning, but not in the evening. That has done more to him than we initially thought."

Speaking on whether he thinks Dumoulin will make it to the Tour, Werner said: "Tom has known setbacks many times. And he has found answers to them many times. I keep that in mind."

After medical examinations this week, where the irritation to his knee was confirmed, Dumoulin underwent surgery to remove what his medical team initially thought was a metal splinter but turned out to be a tiny shard of gravel.

The Dutchman had been suffering from this knee injury since he crashed on stage four of the Giro d’Italia 2019abandoning soon into the next stage.

This shard of gravel had been the source of inflammation that forced Dumoulin to quit the Critérium du Dauphiné before stage seven to avoid further aggravating his knee.

Despite saying it would be difficult for him to get in shape for the Tour de France, Dumoulin travelled to the Critérium du Dauphiné to see how he would hold up, with his team monitoring his condition throughout the week. He was unable to mount a challenge in the overall classification, though, with Astana’s Jakob Fuglsang winning the stage race.

The Team Sunweb doctor, Camiel Aldershof, explained that Dumoulin abandoning the Dauphiné was more of a preventative measure, saying the team did not want to risk their rider’s condition and that the week’s racing had been “pretty satisfactory”. Aldershof continued: “We’ve monitored the situation everyday and of course had ups and downs, but that was to be expected.”

Speaking after Dumoulin’s surgery, Aldershof said: “Tom underwent minor surgery yesterday, in which they removed what initially looked like a metal splinter, but was ultimately a tiny shard of gravel. We decided to remove the piece because it was causing a slight inflammatory reaction.

“Tom did a test ride this morning and all went well. He is now cleared to travel to altitude and continue his preparations. Progression will be closely monitored day by day, possibly adapting training plans accordingly, but the signs are good already."

Clearly the team have already adapted the 2017 Giro d'Italia winner's training plans, with only a few weeks until the Tour de France's Grand Départ in Brussels on July 6.

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Hi. I'm Cycling Weekly's Weekend Editor. I like writing offbeat features and eating too much bread when working out on the road at bike races.

Before joining Cycling Weekly I worked at The Tab and I've also written for Vice, Time Out, and worked freelance for The Telegraph (I know, but I needed the money at the time so let me live).

I also worked for ITV Cycling between 2011-2018 on their Tour de France and Vuelta a España coverage. Sometimes I'd be helping the producers make the programme and other times I'd be getting the lunches. Just in case you were wondering - Phil Liggett and Paul Sherwen had the same ham sandwich every day, it was great.