He said it with a smile, yet the irritation drifted from his words. “You pretend that I am a mental wreck,” Tom Dumoulin countered a question from a journalist after the World Cup in the mixed zone. “It always seems to be about my doubts and it is concluded that I am too insecure. That is certainly not the case. If I wasn’t mentally strong, I couldn’t be so close to my top form again. ”
In the final, when the bell rang on the Enzo e Dino Ferrari car circuit in Imola, Dumoulin was at the back of the large group, talking fairly relaxed with his team mate Dylan van Baarle. If you saw the scene, you could almost say they were chatting. He indicated to his fellow countryman that the cramps were beginning to creep in his legs. “And a few kilometers further I see to my own surprise that Tom is attacking in the first climb of the circuit”, Van Baarle reacted in surprise.
It was precisely this exchange of words that once again placed the magnifying glass on Dumoulin’s sometimes incalculable character. The Limburger felt that he did not have the legs to go with the very strongest on the last and most difficult climb, the Cima Gallisterna. Champions like Julian Alaphilippe and Wout van Aert have more explosiveness on the steepest parts. Although the Maastricht resident concluded afterwards that he was only half a percent short on that climb to be able to compete with the very strongest.
Powers he may have lost in part in his counterattack on Tadej Pogacar nine kilometers earlier. On the first climb in the last lap, about 24 kilometers from the line, he surprisingly disbanded his devils. An attack that can be described in retrospect as a kind of ‘chasse patate’, a fairly aimless undertaking that only wastes your strength. The very young Tour winner was already at the end of his tether of his attack, while nobody wanted to go on an adventure with Dumoulin, which ended up in a kind of no man’s land.
The leader of the orange eight hoped to anticipate the further course of the race. To be ahead of the center of gravity of the match so that the stronger men join him from the front. He assumed that on the tricky final climb, which he compared to the Côte de la Redoute, he would still see the calves of the favorites.
It was a deliberate guess that went wrong. They sometimes say that you only have one arrow on your bow at a World Cup. You have to move in the peloton as invisible as possible. Save as much energy as possible for that one arrow you have to shoot towards the rainbow jersey.
At the Cima Gallisterna Dumoulin said he was half a percent short to follow Julian Alaphilippe, Wout van Aert, Marc Hirschi, Jakob Fuglsang, Primoz Roglic and Michal Kwiatkowski. He saw them drive away from him on the steepest section meter by meter.
A situation that was reminiscent of the monstrous climb of the Höttniger Höll with a gradient of up to 28% during the World Championships in Innbrück. There, Dumoulin also had to let go, but he was able to come back to Alejandro Valverde, Romain Bardet and Michael Woods in the descent. Even two years ago, he lost the much-needed energy for the sprint in the chase and just fell off the podium.
The fact that Dumoulin dares to take another gamble in the full final of a very tough one-day match in order to play for the victory is nevertheless a positive signal. You cannot call it an error of judgment that his legs were even better than he had actually expected. You can only find out by competing with the best at that very highest level. Until this World Cup it had not driven a great one-day race for 518 days. The 50th place in Liège-Bastogne-Liège on April 28, 2019 was his last classic act.
With a fourteenth place in the result, but with the profit of his own confidence in his pocket, Dumoulin logically did not want to discuss his doubts. This is understandable when you have just achieved an important mental victory over yourself. Match after match, he feels himself getting stronger and closer to the prizes. In fact, when the Amstel Gold Race (in thirteen days on the calendar) was discussed, he answered with enormous self-confidence. “I want to compete there for a place on the podium.”
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