Tom Dumoulin has already achieved in the Vuelta a España what he hoped for in the Tour de France: to wear the leader’s jersey. Though the red jersey is not as famed as the Tour’s yellow one, the team Giant-Alpecin Dutchman said that it is a sort of redemption after a disappointing Tour.
Dumoulin crashed with then overall leader Fabian Cancellara (Trek Factory Racing) and several others in stage three of the Tour. He could not continue the race due to a dislocated shoulder.
He had hoped to win the opening time trial in Utrecht or, like Cancellara, come close enough to snatch the yellow jersey via bonus seconds in the following days.
“Redemption? A little bit,” Dumoulin said. “After crashing in the Tour, I was really not a happy person. For two weeks, I was really pissed at home, but then I switched the button and said to myself, ‘I’m going to be very motivated for the rest of the season.'”
He is back, and back in red. He placed 15th on the stage to Alcalá de Guadaíra in southern Spain and enough seconds ahead of former leader, and small lightweight climber, Colombian Esteban Chaves (Orica-GreenEdge) to take the race lead.
“I’m not going to give up this jersey without a fight,” he added. “If you look to the first stage where Chaves beat me on the line in an uphill finish, it was quite surprising that I could do so well on a climb. Apparently, I’m in a good place for the climbs.”
In that finish, the two dropped Nairo Quintana (Movistar) and Nicolas Roche (Sky). It caused many to ask, what type of rider is Dumoulin? Most know him for his time trialling, finishing third behind Bradley Wiggins and Tony Martin in the World Championships last year.
“I’m asking myself that quite a lot. I’m still a time triallist, that’s where got all my victories as a professional, but still, I’m starting to climb very well lately,” Dumoulin said.
“I’m going forward with all my abilities, who knows where it ends. I don’t know. I haven’t tried to go for GC in grand tour yet, maybe that’s possible in the future, but for now, it’s just time trialling and the hilly stages that suit me well.
“Definitely in week-long races I can do really well. In the Eneco Tour and the Tour de Suisse, I already do well with my time trial, but grand tours are something else. We’ll see in the next years, but I didn’t come here with the GC on my mind.”
He came here to Spain to win the time trial in Burgos in the third week. On the same day, Chris Froome hopes to take advantage of the stage to help himself win the race overall.
Dumoulin will not hold back. If he has a chance like today or in stage two, he will try.
“Of course, the Worlds is in the back of my mind, but the [third place overall in the] Tour de Suisse reminded me to take my chances when they come,” he said.
“I could’ve done the Switzerland at 90 per cent, then crashed at the Tour and had nothing for the rest of the season. I’m going to use my legs now, and I hope to still have them at the Worlds.”