ABU DHABI, United Arab Emirates (VN) — Tom Dumoulin’s dream start as time trial world champion turned into a nightmare in the Abu Dhabi Tour on Saturday due to a shifting problem.
The Dutchman of Team Sunweb stopped to switch an already problematic bike in the 12.6-kilometer time trial and lost precious time against the eventual winner, Australia Rohan Dennis (BMC Racing).
“I don’t know how much I lost with the change,” Dumoulin said still in the rainbow jersey he won in the Bergen at the world championships last September.
“I definitely lost something on Dennis riding in the second part. That’s normal when you lose your rhythm and focus, so I definitely lost a little bit more. I tried to fight for it. I was racing anyway, I was making the best out of it.”
Dumoulin finished at 14 minutes and 52 seconds in the hot and sunny course around Al Maryah Island. “It sucks,” he said of the 31-second loss to Dennis, the new race leader.
He would have had a good shot at the overall classification when the WorldTour stage race ends with a summit finish to Jabel Hafeet on Sunday, but it now appears to have slipped away.
“It will be very hard to make a real big difference on the climb,” Dumoulin explained. “Anyway, I’m here and I’m going to give my best tomorrow and we’ll see.”
Dumoulin put on a smile despite a stressful Saturday in the Middle East, where he decided to debut after a 2017 season that included the Giro d’Italia overall title and the time trial world title.
In the warm-up ride, his derailleur gave him problems and set-off alarm bells in the Sunweb camp. The mechanics began quickly rebuilding his rainbow-painted bike to ready it for the stage.
“I did the recon before and then my rear derailleur went into crash mode. That means that it can’t shift anymore in the back,” Dumoulin said.
“The mechanics put the bike upside down and put a new rear derailleur on it. So we made a decision to ride it, my world champion bike in the time trial.”
It gave him more problems in the turn-around of the hot dog course.
“It happened again,” Dumoulin explained. “Apparently, it was a problem with the shifter, not the derailleur, or with the electronics inside. I don’t know.
“Anyway, I needed to change bikes and it really sucked. I had the fastest time at the intermediate. I felt really good. I would’ve liked to start my first-time trial with different sensations because I was feeling good and strong.”