Chris Froome could yet blow the Tour de France wide open with a long-range attack, just as he did on stage 19 of the Giro d’Italia according to the man who was denied a second Giro title by Froome that day.
Tom Dumoulin raced the Giro in May and witnessed first-hand Team Sky‘s star fly free with 80.3km to go in the 19th stage. He turned the race on its head, jumping from fourth to first overall while race leader Simon Yates (Mitchelton-Scott) cracked and Dumoulin failed to chase him down.
“He will need to gain time on me for the time trial. But do I need to explain to him where to attack me!? He could go for a surprise attack somewhere,” Dumoulin added.
“It could happen, yes, like we saw in the Giro. So if he has the legs, he could try to pull it off again. But I think I have the legs to follow.”
The Dutchman is the time trial world champion and will certainly benefit from the Tour’s last challenging day, a 31km time trial on Saturday before Sunday’s Paris finish.
After a rest day today, when Dumoulin talked at the team’s hotel just outside of Carcassonne, the race resumes in the Pyrenean mountains on Tuesday. On Wednesday, the riders face a short and potentially explosive 65km day that ends with a summit finish.
“I don’t know [where Froome’s attack could come]. I really don’t know what to expect in a stage like that. Normally, [a stage like that] that’s my strength,” Dumoulin said.
He added that he could even attack himself, to try to overthrow the two Sky leaders. “If I have the legs, of course, I will do it, always.”
Thomas won two summit finish in the Alps and took the yellow jersey, which he has now held for five days without any sign of weakness.
“Thomas looks strong so far, but I also didn’t expect Yates to crack in the Giro,” Dumoulin said. “We just need to wait and hope!”
“I hope so [that they will crack]! It’s a challenge, of course, it’s not that it’s not a challenge for Sky. They have experience, but Thomas has to stay calm and strong.”
Yates led the Giro for 13 days but in the pink jersey, slipped backwards on the Colle delle Finestre climb. Froome then launched his long-range solo move towards the Jafferau summit finish.
Froome celebrated on the podium in the pink jersey while Yates was still finishing the staeg. He lost 38-51 that day and finished an eventual 21st overall in Rome two days later.
Dumoulin, who won the 2017 Giro d’Italia, sat second overall before Yates cracked and remained in second place at 46 seconds behind Froome after the race-defining 19th stage.
Team Sky will restart the race on Tuesday one man down after the race jury booted Gianni Moscon off the Tour de France for throwing a punch at a rival rider on Sunday.
“I’ve seen it, it’s a red card, that’s just not allowed in cycling, not in football, not in any sport,” Dumoulin said.
“That’s going to hurt them in the mountains, normally they have Rowe and Moscon doing the first part, now they are going to have someone else do that.”