It’s a common and therefore almost annoying cycling cliché: you can’t win the Tour in the first week, but you can lose. Jumbo-Visma proves that the first seven days can also go almost perfectly.
“We win three stages in a week and the leaders are at two and five”, Tom Dumoulin summarizes the score of the Dutch team. “It can’t get any better.”
Seven stages, three victories
Smooth roads in the first stage, an uphill finish and even fans on Friday, but Jumbo-Visma withstood the challenges with verve.
Primoz Roglic, third in the general classification, won the fourth stage to ski resort Orcières-Merlette where he sprinted off all competitors, something that Wout van Aert – despite the efforts for his leaders – then did in two flat stages.
Dumoulin is in fifth place in his first big round since the Giro of 2019, which he had to leave with a knee injury, after eight days. He’s only thirteen seconds behind the caretaker Adam Yates.
Roglic only adds three seconds and takes second place. So who is the real leader? “Well, right now we’re trying to keep me in the general classification and that’s going very well. But Primoz is the first man of us,” explains Dumoulin.
“He’s very dominant and wins that ride”, Dumoulin remembers the fourth stage. “While I was mostly clutching on. That’s a difference. I was there, but at the moment Primoz is one step better.”
What are you doing?!
The victories of masterman Van Aert also amazed Dumoulin. “What are you doing?”, he asked the Belgian on Friday, shortly after his second victory. “Primoz is very good at biting into a wheel. He literally spent the whole day in the wheel with Wout”, Dumoulin analyses.
“Occasionally they were too far and then Wout drove him through the wind again. He might have done that a hundred times, that’s energy you spend. But he doesn’t seem to care.”
Here’s the victory and Van Aert’s reaction:
Not far behind Van Aert, at least in the same group, Dumoulin and Roglic finished. Contrary to Tadej Pogacar, Bauke Mollema and Mikel Landa, among others, they didn’t allow themselves to be surprised by a break in the peloton.
Jumbo-Visma knew where that could happen and just before that Dumoulin drove outside. “I went through the wind, we knew it was going to happen there. Normally I’m good at saving energy, but it’s good to spend energy that you’ll be happy with later.”
Pact without consulting
Pogacar’s acceleration from the top ten of the standings hadn’t even been worked out in detail. Not at all, says Dumoulin. “There hasn’t really been any talk with other teams.”
“Sepp Kuss and George Bennett, two little climbers, were there. And Wout, to keep Primoz and me out of trouble. Ineos and Astana put two men in, so you have an alliance without having talked about it.”
“I’m expecting a course
Saturday the peloton will move into the Pyrenees. The riders have three climbs to go, two of the first and one of the outer category. “I’m expecting a race. The Pyrenees are not super relaxed this year, it’s only two stages. But tomorrow is really a tough stage, we’ll take advantage of that if we have any chances”