During Friday’s stage of the Giro d’Italia, Tom Dumoulin (Jumbo-Visma) reportedly joked with compatriot Mathieu van der Poel (Alpecin-Fenix) that he could have the pink jersey for one day, but he wanted to try for it himself on Saturday.
But if Van der Poel duly won the opening stage and took the lead on Friday, 24 hours later Dumoulin was unable to live up to his own good-humoured expectations on Saturday’s time trial by a maddeningly-narrow margin. Instead, the former TT World Champion was beaten into third place by both surprise winner Simon Yates (BikeExchange-Jayco) and Van der Poel himself.
Pursued by a small army of Dutch games finish as he powered across the TT line at Budapest castle and into a provisional top spot overall on the stage, that was quickly overturned by both Yates and Van der Poel, Dumoulin pulled no punches about his victory- that-abruptly-turned-to-defeat when he finally wheeled to a halt.
“I gave it everything, there wasn’t much in it, just one or two corners perhaps, and then I had hoped I would have more in the tank for the final climb,” Dumoulin said.
The warning bells had begun to ring when the mid-stage checkpoint showed Yates had already gained one second on Dumoulin on the flatter opening segment of a technically tricky TT. Alex Dowsett (Israel-Premier Tech) had told Cyclingnews prior to the stage that the course was likely not to overly favor the specialists, and so it proved.
“But the climb was where Yates made the main difference, and that was where I cracked,” Dumoulin pointed out. “So for me it went all right, but obviously I wasn’t good enough.”
The winner of the Giro’s opening time trial in Jerusalem in 2018, Dumoulin had come into the Giro hoping for a strong start. It was, he said, disappointing, “because I was going for the win and I didn’t succeed.”
After missing the mark by so little, a second opportunity for Dumoulin to show his time trialing form will come, of course, on the last day in Verona.
But between the two, it’s his climbing ability which will come under the closest scrutiny, and on Etna on Tuesday, the first test will not be long in coming.