Dumoulin also gained time on four-time Tour de France winner Chris Froome when he charged up the final climb to finish second behind stage winner and overall leader Geraint Thomas. With three Alps stages now completed, Dumoulin sits third overall, 1:39 behind Thomas in the yellow jersey, and 11 seconds behind second-place Froome.
“Today was absolutely mental,” Dumoulin said at the finish. “Lots of GC riders attacked early and it was a full on chase the whole day.”
It was another day of high drama in the Alps as all the top contenders squared off on a brutal 175km route that included climbs over the Col de la Madelaine, Croix-de-Fer and a summit finish at Alpe d’Huez for the 30th time in Tour de France history.
Team Sunweb was again aggressive throughout the day, putting Laurens ten Dam in an early break. By the time the main group of GC contenders hit the final climb up Alpe d’Huez, many had been dropped and it was down to just 10 riders chasing Steven Kruijswijk, who had been on a long solo break.
Team Sky had the advantage on the final climb, with teammates Froome and Thomas racing for the lead, but Dumoulin remained calm and chased down every attack. In the end it came down to a group of five—Froome, Thomas, Dumoulin, Romain Bardet and Mikel Landa—and Dumoulin once again proved to be one of the strongest.
“I could have had a chance to win if I did everything well,” said Dumoulin, who wore the Giant Rev helmet and rode with a prototype WheelSystem and cockpit components being developed by Giant (labeled #overachieve). “But I ended up in last position before the sprint started.”
Dumoulin’s show of strength in the Alps sent a message that he’s aiming for yellow, and he said he looks forward to the stages to come. “I hope that I stay strong, but anything can happen in the third week,” he said.