Dumoulin collided with French rival Romain Bardet (Ag2r La Mondiale) at 5.7 kilometres remaining and just 3.7 to the base of the two-kilometre Mûr de Bretagne climb. He chased, but could not re-join in time and lost 53 seconds to stage winner Daniel Martin (UAE-Team Emirates) and other overall rivals.
“I’m disappointment of course,” Dumoulin said back at the team bus. “I would have liked to be in better position in the GC but that’s how it is.”
His GC position worsened because the UCI race jury added 20 seconds because of excessive drafting during his chase back to the group. With that, he now sits 19th overall at 1-23 minutes back from race leader Greg Van Avermaet (BMC Racing).
It was a turn of fortune for Dumoulin who had come out of the first five days unscathed. Chris Froome (Sky), Richie Porte (BMC Racing), Nairo Quintana (Movistar) and others lost time due to crashes or incidents.
Dumoulin lost his team-mate Michael Matthews (Sunweb) ahead of stage five due to fever. Now on stage six, he was hit with a 1-13 minute loss.
“We know that the first five days we were very luckily with it but we also knew that it could hit us also, and it did today,” Dumoulin explained. “It’s very unfortunate, but it is how it is.”
He became the first Dutchman to win the Giro d’Italia in 2017 and this year placed second in the Giro behind Chris Froome. After six days of the Tour, he still remains a favourite despite the loss.
“I hit the back wheel of Bardet when there was the movement in the peloton and I couldn’t avoid it any more, and that’s it. And I lost time,” he added.
“I had a broken spoke with my front wheel. I needed to change wheels and chase to the finish as hard as possible but it was very difficult.”
Simon Geschke gave Dumoulin his front wheel. The “fatal” incident meant that Romain Bardet also suffered a time loss, finishing on top of the Mûr de Bretagne at 31 seconds back and slipping to 23rd at 1-45.
“A spoke broke and I had to swap bikes with Tony Gallopin,” Bardet explained.
“Then I had to chase and that effort was fatal. It’s never good to lose time. There are a lot of twists on the Tour and this time luck was not on our side.”