Coming into the Giro d'Italia, the form of Tom Dumoulin and Tobias Foss was a bit of a mystery. There had been rumours that the two Jumbo-Visma riders were not in their best shape after their last training camp, but the pair both showed well on stage two's time trial, so it was not clear how good the team's general classification hopefuls were going.
Stage four to Mount Etna left us in no doubt. Dumoulin came in 9:10 behind Lennard Kämna, the stage winner, leaving him 49th overall, while Foss lost 4:52 along with teammate Sam Oomen, meaning they are now in 30th and 34th respectively.
There are still 16 stages to go, but this feels pretty decisive. The team now has no rider with four minutes of the maglia rosa, with Foss almost three minutes behind Simon Yates, the first of the proper GC candidates. Big time gaps can be won and lost in this climb-heavy Giro, but to lose so much time so early is big.
"I’m just not feeling good," Dumoulin explained post stage. "It’s like that. I worked hard to get here in the best shape possible, and yeah.
"Everything was ok, yeah, I just don’t have the legs at the moment. I don’t know why. I don’t know, but it is like it is."
Perhaps this is why the Dutchman looked so deflated post-time trial on Saturday, as he knew that was a chance to make a mark upon a race if he was not going to trouble the GC standings.
The 2017 winner has not shown his old Grand Tour racing form since the pandemic really, with seventh at the 2020 Tour de France his best result. In that period he also took a step back from riding for his mental health before returning, and he still looks far from his best on climbs.
Foss, meanwhile, was Jumbo-Visma's second option at the race, but also slipped back on Tuesday, leaving the Dutch squad to devise a whole new strategy for the next part of the race.
"It is what it is," the Norwegian said. "It was a hard stage in general, so if you don’t have the extra percentages then you struggle a bit. There’s still a lot of racing left, so we take it day by day and take our chances."
They will have to regroup and focus on stage wins instead, possibly. It is a weird place to be for a team that is so often dominant at races; the gap between Primož Roglič and Wout van Aert and this situation seems massive.
They had another possible option in Oomen, but the Dutchman also lost time, meaning they hold very few cards in pink jersey terms. A change of approach will be needed for the rest of the race.
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