The Vuelta a España was one mountain stage too long for Tom Dumoulin, as he dropped on the penultimate climb to lose 5′ and the race lead.
The last obstacle before heading for the finishing stage of the Vuelta in Madrid was a difficult challenge. Stage 20 contained four 1st category climbs along the 175.8km route from San Lorenzo to Cercedilla.
On the third climb, Tom Dumoulin had difficulty following the attacks from the GC group and dropped with the summit in sight. In the descent he was on his own and unable to come back. dUMOULIN finished 5’ behind the GC contenders and dropped to 6th overall. After a 120km solo Ruben Plaza (Lampre – Merida) won the stage and Fabio Aru (Astana Pro Team) took over the GC lead.
“It was too much today,” said a disappointed Dumoulin after the stage. “I fought for all I was worth. After the first attack by Aru I had difficulties countering him and closing the gap. I was on the limit. When he went again it was over and there was a gap at the summit.
“I almost came back on the descent after the next-to-last climb. Too bad the descent wasn’t more technical, because on technique I could have come back. In the valley Astana pulled with three guys and I knew it was over.
“On the previous stages, when Aru attacked I was in his wheel right away. Today I gave him a few metres in the Puerto de la Morcuera and I never recovered. I did not have the form I had the other days. That’s the problem. I narrowed the gap to 10 seconds in the descent and even if I had made it back to the group there, I’m sure I would have been dropped in the following climb. I am very disappointed.
"I was able to counter the attacks on the previous stages, but today I was unable to. I kept on fighting for the podium or top five and went full on to the finish, but there was nothing left in the tank. I was out of energy and it was one day too long.”
Coach Addy Engels explained:
“It was OK until the moment Aru attacked and Tom couldn’t follow. The Vuelta was one day too long and Tom had a difficult day. In the beginning we took control for a while, but MTN Qhubeka then took over because their top-10 place in the GC was endangered by the large breakaway group.
“We knew that Astana was planning this and we simply didn’t have the team to take the initiative on a difficult course like today’s. It then came down to Tom himself, as in the earlier stages in the Vuelta. But unfortunately he didn’t have the legs today.
“We were close, and it’s too bad we lost the lead on the last difficult stage. Nevertheless, we have had a fantastic Vuelta, with two amazing stage wins and the overall lead for a long time. A third stage win is possible tomorrow, and we’ll hope for the best.”
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