Dutchman Tom Dumoulin kept cool despite losing the Vuelta a España today on the roads to Cercedilla north of Madrid. Dumoulin, who slipped from first to sixth, rode over the line, sat down in his team Giant-Alpecin car and looked at the overall leader board above the podium.
Instead of six seconds in the lead over Italian Fabio Aru (Astana), the digital screen displayed him 3-46 minutes down on new race leader Aru. He sat quietly talking to a team helper before answering questions in Dutch and then in English.
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“Am I proud of my Vuelta ride? At the moment it’s just disappointing,” he said. “Tomorrow I’ll be proud, but now it’s just “disappointing.”
Dumoulin yesterday appeared to be building momentum towards Madrid, where the race finishes tomorrow with a flat stage. He attacked Aru on the cobbled uphill finish to Ávila and doubled his slim three-second lead to six. Based on yesterday and his defence through the mountains on Thursday, he seemed to be capable to hold off Aru’s attacks.
Astana collectively charged when Dumoulin lacked help from his Giant-Alpecin team-mates. Aru attacked on the penultimate climb, his team-mate Mikel Landa followed and they bridged to two of their team-mates who were waiting after sitting up from the early escape.
With the added firepower of Luis León Sánchez and Andrey Zeits, Aru built his lead on Dumoulin.
“I lost the Vuelta already before, if I would’ve come back in the descent, I would’ve been dropped straight away on the next climb,” Dumoulin added.
“If I would’ve come back, that would’ve been nice, but that wouldn’t have saved my ride.”
Asked if he knew a bad day was coming on, he said, “I had an idea.” It is not clear when that idea came to him.
“I was just empty. Just no legs,” he said. “I just fought for what it was worth and I just had to deal with it.”
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Dumoulin may have lost the overall lead and a podium spot, but he gained new fans around the world and the knowledge that he can ride for the classification in a grand tour.
Before the Vuelta, Dumoulin thought of himself more as a time trialist who could compete in smaller stage races like the Tour de Suisse, where he finished third this June. In the last three weeks around Spain, he discovered something new about himself.
“The whole race has been nice for me in general, but yeah…” he said before pausing. “That’s it.”
Dumoulin took a moment and with the same coolness that carried him through the Vuelta, continued answering questions in Dutch.