Tom Dumoulin (Sunweb) worries about beating his rivals Geraint Thomas and Chris Froome, but says that the Sky duo may turn on themselves based on stage 14 in Mende.
The Dutchman, winner of the 2017 Giro d’Italia, sits third overall behind yellow jersey Thomas and Froome in second place.
However, he had a laugh to himself today when Primož Roglič (LottoNL-Jumbo), fourth overall, attacked. It created some tense and telling moments on the short three-kilometre climb to Mende’s airstrip.
“It’s difficult but they also are riding for their win,” Dumoulin said when asked if he was facing a two against one fight with Sky’s duo.
“I attacked first [after Roglic was free] then Thomas was in my wheel. Froome closed the gap and attacked, and it was Thomas again who closed the gap to Froome.”
Sky has not had such a strong leading duo in the Tour de France since 2012 with Froome and eventual winner Bradley Wiggins. Froome appeared stronger than Wiggins in the climbs, but remained loyal while cracks appeared in Team Sky.
“I can’t speak to anyone else, I’m sure they’d be happy for either of us to win,” Thomas said of Team Sky’s management. “For me, I’d be happier if I won than Froomey!”
The Welshman, however, promised to work for Froome if it is needed in the coming three Pyrenean stages. He said that Froome with six Grand Tour wins has more experience.
Dumoulin could benefit, however, if the two really are chasing each other down as he said he saw on Saturday leading to the finish.
He went back to defend his Giro title this May but could only manage second to Chris Froome. Sitting third in the Tour now, he is one of Sky’s biggest threats. He is the time trial world champion and the Tour ends with such an event before the celebration stage in Paris next Sunday.
“There’s always hope and belief, when you stop doing that then you better not race at all,” Dumoulin said of the possibility of beating Sky’s grip on the race.
“I think we were pretty evenly matched today, like also in the Alps actually. We will see what that means in the Pyrenees.”
The race’s final time trial covers a relatively short 31 kilometres to Espelette. “First the Pyrenees,” Dumoulin added, “and then we’ll see what the damage is.”