Tom Dumoulin says the transfer rumours surrounding Chris Froome made him “think about my own troubles”, with the Dutchman having made a high-profile contract break from Sunweb to join Jumbo-Visma mid-way through the 2019 season.
“That’s not fun,” Dumoulin told Het Laatste Nieuws of switching team during a season, as Chris Froome was rumoured to have been considering, although Ineos denied this was a possibility.
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“I don’t know if I should believe the rumours but if he wants to switch during the season it will take energy. I have been very different since last year,” Dumoulin said.
Chris Froome is said to be looking at potentially leaving Team Ineos, saying “there are several things to consider”, chief among them being internal competition for team leadership ahead of this year’s French Grand Tour, where the 35-year-old is looking to win a record-equalling fifth victory.
Leaving would give Froome sole leadership of a team in this attempt, but would mean losing a strong support squad that in various forms has won seven of the last eight Tours de France.
In comparison, Dumoulin left Sunweb, where he was the out-and-out GC leader, for a Jumbo-Visma squad that already boasted Primož Roglič and Steven Kruijswijk, the former winning the 2019 Vuelta a España and the latter taking the final step of the podium at last year’s Tour.
“Now I am not alone anymore,” Dumoulin said. “We will soon be riding for who is in the best position. If Steven Kruijswijk is the best of the team, Tom Dumoulin will ride for Steven and then Primož Roglič will ride for Steven. If Primož is the best, the team rides for him. If it turns out that I am the best, I ride for me. That makes you have a very strong team.”
This is the gamble that Dumoulin made by joining Jumbo-Visma, with Michael Boogerd saying the 2017 Giro d’Italia winner has already passed his peak and has a “gut feeling” he won’t win the Tour this year.
With the strongest teams in the peloton now often adopting ‘the road will decide’ as the policy for picking their Grand Tour leaders, for the individual it can pay off in a big way or see you sacrifice your own chances.
For Geraint Thomas, who served Froome faithfully for years at the Tour de France, he took his chance when he found himself in the yellow jersey in 2018 and held on all the way to Paris with Froome turning to the role of super domestique. Likewise, in 2019 Bernal took the race lead after stage 19 was halted due to landslide, with Bernal up the road at the time of the race being stopped, and Thomas then riding for his younger team-mate.
“I can’t speak for Froome. He must start from his own strength, which is possible with every team,” Dumoulin continued, explaining that ultimately a team can’t solely carry a rider to victory. “The last ten kilometres of a climb is everyone for themselves. No matter which team, we will have to beat him anyway.”