Stage three, four and five of this year’s Tour are all in excess of 200km as the peloton head south from Normandy towards the Pyrenees in the space of four days.
Although Dumoulin understands that shorter stages would mean longer bus transfers – itself a subject that riders often complain about – he doesn’t see the logic in marathon, unexciting stages.
“It’s not really necessary that we do these kind of stages any more. I don’t see the real point,” the Giant-Alpecin rider told Cycling Weekly.
“It makes us more tired. That’s actually the only thing it does. You get a more exciting race [when the route is shorter]. You see on stage three, that is not cycling anymore.
“We have to see what the audience like. We’re a bit subjective: we all love cycling and have grown up with cycling. If we are at home and we see a stage like this, it’s nice to watch cycling on TV but for 95 percent of the spectators it’s just boring.
“All my friends from a young age who don’t really know cycling and only watch it because I am here, they zap to another channel. That’s what happens [with long stages] and I don’t think that is a good thing.”
Lotto-Soudal’s Greg Henderson agreed, and questioned why Tour organisers ASO insist on lengthy flat stages when the outcome is always the same, regardless of the distance covered.
“If it was a 160km stage race it would still be the same result,” the New Zealander said.
“One or two stages of that length in the whole Tour are fine but you just don’t need three or four in a row.
“But it could be worse: it could be 240km in the mountains which would be an eight-hour day for the gruppeto. We have to get to the bottom of France somehow.”