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Tour de France

Dumoulin: Better to win a stage than finish 12th overall

Focusing on stage wins over GC aspirations pays off for Tom Dumoulin

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ANDORRA (VN) — Winning a stage at the Tour de France is one thing; battling for the yellow is something else. And Tom Dumoulin (Giant – Alpecin) is the first to admit it.

“If I had been racing for the GC, I would have never have won today,” a wet and happy Dumoulin said. “It’s not worth it for me to race here to finish 12th. This victory is worth so much more.”

Dumoulin, 25, has the class to someday challenge in the Tour. In Sunday’s queen stage into Andorra, however, he was content to be the day’s protagonist. The big Dutchman had a nine-minute head start on the main GC contenders once he hit Arcalis, and attacked out of an elite pack of stage-hunters, holding off Rui Costa (Lampre – Merida) and Rafal Majka (Tinkoff) to win by 38 seconds.

“I just won the queen stage!” he said, hardly believing his own ears. “A few days ago, I was really feeling bad, but I started to feel better. I was one of the strongest in the breakaway, and once I get a gap, it’s hard to bring me back.”

The win also made history for Dutch cycling: he is the first from the Netherlands to win consecutive grand tour stages. He won two stages in the 2015 Vuelta a España, and a stage at the 2016 Giro d’Italia, and Sunday’s stage, his first victory in the Tour.

And those GC hopes? After watching the likes of Chris Froome (Sky) and Nairo Quintana (Movistar) lock horns in this Tour, the rider who led last year’s Vuelta into the 20th stage knows he’s got some work to do.

“I need another one, two, or even three steps to get to those guys,” he said. “To do a good GC is a lot to ask. You have to be on point every day for three weeks. It’s something I want to work toward.”

Dumoulin is a member of the “Class of 1990,” a generation of riders born that year that are taking over the peloton. Others include world champion Peter Sagan, Nairo Quintana, and Romain Bardet.

A confirmed quality time trialist, Dumoulin also has climbing chops to some day challenge for a grand tour. His breakthrough ride in the Vuelta, and a weeklong run in pink at this year’s Giro provide a tantalizing preview of his GC potential.

On the right course, similar perhaps to what the Tour served up in 2012 to allow Bradley Wiggins to win the yellow jersey, Dumoulin could have serious possibilities.

In his immediate future are the Rio de Janeiro Olympics Games, where he will face off against Froome for the Olympic gold medal in the time trial.

On Sunday, he simply couldn’t believe what he had just done.

“Can I be honest?” he asked. “I f—ing did it!”