The Dutch star blew his wheels off at the top of the final climb of the Tour’s Pyrénéan punch-up into Loudenvielle to shed over two minutes and slip from from fifth to 15th overall. However, with his teammate Primož Roglič still unfaltering and just three seconds behind yellow jersey Adam Yates, Jumbo-Visma‘s Tour is still far from over.
Dumoulin had looked quietly impressive through the Critérium du Dauphiné and opening week of the Tour de France after 14 months away from racing due to injuries and illness. Yet the 29-year-old finally lost his legs on the top slopes of the Col de Peyresourde on stage 8 of the Tour after his team had turned the screw through the preceding hors categorie climb of the Port de Balès.
“I was still there at the Port de Balès, but that was hanging on and suffering,’ Dumoulin said Saturday. “We are here to win the Tour, initially with Primož or with me, but I felt today that it will not work for me.”
While Team-Jumbo’s crushing climbing crew put the hurt on the team’s GC rivals through the high Pyrénéaan pass, it was also the undoing of Dumoulin.
“I had a hard time during the last kilometers of the Port de Balès, when Wout [Van Aert] took over from Robert [Gesink],” he said. “I already knew that I did not have the legs to go with the best until the finish. ”
“In the descent I could still hang on, but then I made the choice to ride in front for Primož. See, we’re here to win the Tour. At first it was intended with Primož or with me, but now we are going full for Primož. He still has very good cards.”
Sensing the wheels on his GC bid beginning to slow, Dumoulin went all-in for his Slovenian teammate as the GC group began throwing haymakers at each other through the stage’s final climb, before the lights finally went out. The Dutchman took a monster turn on the front with his teammate sheltering close behind before finally felling off the pace, losing over two minutes on the stage and most likely ending any yellow jersey ambition he may have had with it.
“Dumoulin told us through the radio that he wasn’t good and that he would work for the team,” said Jumbo-Visma’s kiwi climber George Bennett.
Despite losing Dumoulin as a card to play in the GC, team sports director Grischa Niermann was keen to point out there’s a long way to Paris and that Roglič has yet to put a foot wrong, other than failing to counter a blistering attack from his Slovenian countryman Tadej Pogacar, who gained back seconds he had lost in the crosswinds on Friday.
“We are one day closer to our final goal. Primož Roglič is still second,” Niermann said.
“The Tour is three weeks long and you have to be good and consistent for three weeks. Today we saw Pinot fall through, for example. It’s our job to keep participating every day.”
Back in spring, Jumbo-Visma had planned to assault the Tour with three leaders: Roglič, Dumoulin and Steven Kruijswijk. With Kruijswijk not making the start line due to injury, it’s now all-in behind Roglič.
“It was a difficult final for us,” Dumoulin said. “Of course we would have liked to enter the final with more riders. But again: Primoz is still in very good shape.”