MEGÈVE, France (VN) — Dutchman Tom Dumoulin, second Thursday in the Tour’s uphill time trial to Chris Froome, can do it all: time trial, climb, and hold the media’s attention, leading experts to say he can win the overall soon.
The leader of team Giant – Alpecin may not be a Brit or American, but those followers are paying attention due to his racing style and his media savvy. After losing the mountain TT to the Megève ski station Thursday by 21 seconds to Sky’s Chris Froome, Dumoulin gracefully stood around to explain what happened and talk about his future in both Dutch and English.
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Sky boss, and mastermind behind Froome’s two Tour victories and Bradley Wiggins’s win in 2012, stood nearby and was quick to praise the 25-year-old from Maastricht.
“He’s a very strong challenger for the future, he has all the attributes necessary,” Brailsford said. “He needs to climb better, but he time trials out of this world. He’s complete. I’m sure he can do it.”
Dumoulin, in a clean white and black Giant – Alpecin jersey, smiled. He could. Though he narrowly lost stage 18, he already won the Arcalís summit finish and Le Caverne de Pont d’Arc time trial in this year’s Tour.
“David has confidence in me, but I do hope to lose weight in the future so I can really compete in the grand tours,” Dumoulin said. “So far my climbing abilities aren’t good enough to compete yet.”
Brailsford added, “Yes, they are.”
“Yeah, it’s getting close, but to compete for the podium at the Tour de France, I need to make another step,” Dumoulin continued. “We are getting close. You can see today, as well, with a climbing time trial, I’m second. But there’s also a difference between this and going full-gas every day for three weeks. I need to make another step.”
Dumoulin made a huge leap ahead in last year’s Vuelta a España. He began the race aiming for stage wins, but that quickly changed when he placed second to Esteban Chaves (Orica – BikeExchange) on one summit finish and beat Froome to win another. He won the time trial in the third week and looked ready to hold the red leader’s jersey to Madrid. Only in the final mountain day did he crack under pressure from Fabio Aru and his Astana teammates.
He debated racing for grand tour overalls already in 2016, but instead kept his focus on the Rio de Janeiro Olympics, where he wants to win the gold medal in the time trial. He appears on track, he won the opening time trial in the Giro d’Italia and the early time trial in the Tour, only losing today’s to Froome by 21 seconds.
“I hope I can keep myself out of the red zone in the coming days, finish the Tour, take a good recovery afterwards and hopefully, I’ll be flying in Rio,” Dumoulin said. “Like you see today, it’ll be a hard fight in Rio.”
Dumoulin turned away from Brailsford and spent more time with other waiting journalists. Questions were about 2017, what he learned from this year’s Tour for next year’s grand tours.
“I’m a good rider when I really go for it in a time trial or in a mountain stage, but I definitely need to make another step if I want to go for the GC in a grand tour,” Dumoulin said. “I’ll need to lose weight and climb better to make that step.”