Much was made about Chris Froome losing GC options in the opening days of the 2020 Vuelta a España. But there was another marquee name that saw his overall hopes dissolve in the first few climbs of this year’s race – Tom Dumoulin.
“How is this Vuelta going? Not very good,” Dumoulin said Tuesday. “I had hoped to be able to fight here for a good result, but at the moment I am pretty tired. It is what it is.”
In the opening stage won by teammate Roglič, Dumoulin couldn’t match the searing pace and gave up nearly one minute. That wasn’t so bad, considering how sharp the race opened with a first category summit on the opening day. Things blew up in stage 2, and Dumoulin lost more than eight minutes.
Since then, he’s given up all GC hope, now 53rd at 42:25 back.
“My busy program and coming back from injury all cost a lot of energy and backfired before this Vuelta,” Dumoulin said. “That’s the conclusion we have to make. I would have liked to have been better here.”
Much like Froome, Dumoulin is also returning from a serious injury. The Dutchman pulled out early of the 2019 Giro with a knee injury and did not race a grand tour until the 2020 Tour de France, where he helped Roglič race to second overall.
Dumoulin was quietly confident coming out of the Tour that he could be a contender in this Vuelta. With a long time trial looming at the start of the third week, Dumoulin believed he could have had options for the final podium. At the time, Dumoulin said no one really knows what to expect in this late-season grand tour.
“There was no time to do a real grand tour preparation. There were no altitude camps, no warm-up races,” Dumoulin said at the start of the Vuelta. “We went to straight to the worlds and then the classics. It’s not ideal, but it’s the same for everyone. We have to make the most out of it.”
Dutch media reported that Dumoulin wanted to leave the Vuelta on Monday’s rest day, but that Jumbo-Visma sport directors are encouraging the 2017 Giro d’Italia winner to finish the Spanish grand tour to put another full race into his legs going into the winter.
Jumbo-Visma also lost a second GC option Sunday when Sepp Kuss ceded 10 minutes in cold and rain on the stage to Formigal. That day, Roglič lost the leader’s jersey but remains in contention with fourth overall. With Kuss and Dumoulin out of the picture, the team will now rally around the Slovenian.
“He was disappointed he lost time when it wasn’t necessary because it was of a mistake,” Dumoulin said. “That’s not how you want to lose time. He was sad and disappointed, but he is still in a good position. For the TT, he is one of the strongest of the GC guys. He still has an advantage on them.”
Dumoulin laughed off suggestions that somehow he doesn’t like the Vuelta. Dumoulin was leading the 2015 Vuelta when he famously got caught out in an ambush in the mountains north of Madrid on the final mountain stage to lose to Fabio Aru.
“I didn’t win that Vuelta, but I was very happy about that race,” he said. “I love to race here.”
In fact, this is Dumoulin’s first Vuelta since that 2015 performance that set up him as a future grand tour star.