Dumoulin felt uphill: ‘Winning the Tour, that’s just not going to work anymore’

Jumbo-Visma started the Tour de France with two leaders. After eight stages, only one of the two is still in the lead. That’s the conclusion of the rider who will now put himself in the service of the only remaining leader.

Tom Dumoulin felt it himself on Saturday at the Port de Balรจs, a climb of the outdoor category, on which he was suddenly at the head of the group with favourites and finally had to let go of the competition. Dumoulin took the decision to ride in front, to the surprise of his team management.

Sports director Frans Maassen was not happy with that choice of his rider. According to him it wasn’t necessary at all that Dumoulin took over the lead in the race.

Watch the interview of Herman van der Zandt with Maassen below

“We see him every day, he’s much better than he thinks.” “He didn’t have to ride hard at all. Then maybe the damage would have been limited. He wouldn’t have had to do it and maybe he shouldn’t have.”

Dumoulin explained it in a first message from his team on Saturday evening: “We’re here to win the Tour. At first that was the intention with Primoz (Roglic, ed.) or with me”, the rider said. “I felt today that it just won’t work out anymore.”

The Limburg rider started in the morning as number five in the general classification, thirteen seconds behind the yellow jersey, on the first mountain stage of this Tour. By the end of the day the difference had increased to two minutes and twenty seconds.

Dumoulin is now fifteenth. “I just didn’t have the legs to go with the best until the finish”, he looks back realistically on the day he joined Roglic (the number two of the classification) and after that he couldn’t cling on.

Jumbo-Visma initially put Robert Gesink and Wout van Aert at the head of the peloton to smoke out the competition, but the desired effect was not achieved. Dumoulin: “I was hanging and strangling along at the top of the Port de Balรจs. That’s when I made the choice to ride in front of Primoz

“That was too early, in the end he was isolated and that’s not what we want. But if I hadn’t been in the lead, I would have ridden off without a breakaway”

No more intervention

The team management couldn’t intervene at that time, Maassen says. “We heard that too late and then the damage was done. Probably the result wouldn’t have been much different if he hadn’t done it, but it’s a pity”

Still, Maassen doesn’t want to be too disappointed. “Primoz is our leader, Tom’s a little further away. That’s a bit of a swallow for Tom himself and us as a team. But morale must not and must not suffer because of that.”

After the stage, teammates Roglic, Robert Gesink and George Bennett praised Dumoulin and his sacrifice for the team. “Tom has shown that he rides for the team here and that he’s a great team player.”

On Sunday serious Pyrenean columns have to be climbed again and Dumoulin will do so in the service of his Slovenian leader. “I’ve dropped out of the top of the rankings now, but Primoz is in great shape.”

Dumoulin still gives him all chances for the final victory. “We have started to try to win the Tour. Primoz still has very good cards and we are going full for that.”