Team Sunweb rider Tom Dumoulin put in a strong effort on the mountainous Stage 11 of the Tour de France Wednesday, attacking on his TCR Advanced SL team bike and finishing second at the summit of La Rosière. On a dramatic day that saw major shake-ups in the general classification, the Dutchman jumped all the way from 11th to 3rd overall.
Stage 11, a short but intense route covering 108km—but with 48km of climbing—was the second of three critical days in the Alps. General classification leader Greg Van Avermaet of Belgium, who wore the yellow jersey for seven days, cracked early, setting up a battle for the overall lead.
Team Sunweb was aggressive from the start, setting up their leader to make a move. Early in the stage, American Chad Haga and Danish rider Søren Kragh Andersen, who wore the white jersey as the top young rider for a week, joined a breakaway group, putting themselves in position to help pace Dumoulin on key climbs that would come later including the hors categorie Col du Pré.
After the third major climb of the day, the Cormet de Roselend, Dumoulin, wearing the Rev helmet and riding a prototype WheelSystem being developed by Giant (labeled #overachieve) attacked from the main group on a descent and bridged up to Spaniard Alejandro Valverde in a bid for the yellow jersey. Team Sky, with GC men Geraint Thomas and Chris Froome, were put on the defensive.
“The attack was improvised,” Dumoulin said. “Søren was in the break and he is a mad man in the downhills. I told him to go at the front and go fast, but not take any risks, and suddenly we had a gap.”
That set up a battle on the final climb to La Rosière, a 17.6km ascent with an average grade of 5.5 percent.
A flurry of attacks was launched behind Dumoulin, and Thomas eventually caught up to him and took the win at the summit to grab the race leader’s yellow jersey. Dumoulin held off Froome to finish second behind Thomas and move all the way up to third place in the GC. He now sits 1:44 behind race leader Thomas, and just 19 seconds back from second-place Froome.
“I actually learned to ski in this village when I was a little kid,” Dumoulin said after crossing the line. “My uncle rented a house here and the whole family came. This spring he passed away, just two weeks after my aunty also passed away. So my dad lost his brother and sister within two weeks of each other. Today I really wanted to perform well for them and I hope that I did them proud.”
Stage 12 is another tough day in the Alps, with a 175.5km test that finishes atop the iconic Alpe d’Huez.
“Today I had a good day,” Dumoulin said. “Maybe tomorrow I pay for it, but I’m happy with today.”