Tom Dumoulin wins something other than a popularity contest

2016 Tour de France, Stage 9

Anyone who watched Tom Dumoulin’s six second advantage over second-placed Fabio Aru transformed into a 4m36s deficit on the final meaningful stage of last year’s Vuelta a Espana will surely have celebrated this win. Dumoulin was the heart of that race and emerged with little from it.

On stage nine of this year’s Tour de France, he got into a strong break and outrode everyone to take the first summit finish of the race. Top stuff, Tom. Good effort.

The overall contenders

A few minutes after Dumoulin finished, Adam Yates led the favourites home. I have slightly contradictory feelings about how the Bury lad might do in this Tour. On the one hand, he’s already hanging with the best and typically finishes stronger than them. On the other, perhaps more dominant hand, he was doing quite a bit of drifting off the back of the group, so I suspect his efforts are coming at a cost.

Yates says he’s only here to try and win stages and that next year’s when he’ll target the overall. At the same time… you are second at the minute, Adam.

Considering it was a summit finish, the time gaps weren’t actually all that large. Chris Froome and Nairo Quintana finished together in the same time as Yates. Richie Porte, two seconds behind them, was another who looked a little bit stronger than others – but he’s already lost a couple of minutes, so needs a few more things to go in his favour to be in with a chance of winning.

Dan Martin finished with Porte and he both attacked and struggled. Perhaps if he gives up the former, he might have less of the latter.

Another 19 seconds further down, we’re getting to riders who are starting to look like they’re maybe in a secondary category. Sergio Henao could probably do better if he wasn’t working in support of Froome; Romain Bardet is where you’d expect him to be; and Joaquim Rodriguez has been doing better than might have been expected, but is still a little short (of the required standard – although height too). Bauke Mollema and Louis Meintjes were also in that group and even though I want to say things about riders who finished behind them, we’ve already overdosed on names for today’s stage report.

Update: Joaquim Rodriguez has just announced that he’ll retire at the end of the season.

One more name

Alberto Contador abandoned. Those crashes have been affecting his sleep and I wouldn’t be surprised if this is why he’s fallen ill. A Grand Tour’s tough on the immune system.

The King of the Nutcases competition

The King of the Mountains competition is proving unusually hotly-contested this year. Rafal Majka, Thomas de Gendt and Thibaut Pinot all seem to have pretensions on it. To put the calibre of those riders in perspective, Majka has three top ten finishes in the Giro d’Italia and came third in last year’s Vuelta a Espana; de Gendt came third in the 2012 Giro; and Pinot came third in the 2014 Tour de France and 10th in 2012.

Pinot leads at the minute.

Rest day today

Breathe, sleep. They’ll be back on their bikes soon enough.