Tom Dumoulin’s status as one of the best all-rounders in world cycling was underlined at the World Road Race Championships in Innsbruck yesterday, even if the major titles continue to elude him in 2018.
The Dutch time-trial specialist proved he was capable of more than just riding against the clock last year by winning the gruelling three-week Giro d’Italia.
That he backed it up with victory in the time-trial at the world championships in Bergen last September confirmed his place among the cycling elite.
This year has seen him further strengthen that claim, but without the garlands to prove it.
Dumoulin was second to Chris Froome at the Giro in May, runner-up to Geraint Thomas at the Tour de France in July, and yesterday under the shadow of the Alps, the second step on the podium was again the best he could achieve.
This time the man to defeat him was Australian Rohan Dennis, himself a time-trial specialist who has won three stages on grand tours this year when it is purely man against clock.
This was a convincing win against Dumoulin and the world’s best, Dennis negotiating a testing 52.1km course from Alpbachtal Seenland that included a 5km climb in one hour, three minutes and 2.57 seconds – more than a minute faster than Dumoulin.
“It’s an amazing feeling,” said Dennis. “Knowing Tom Dumoulin’s watts during the team time-trial made me confident that I’d beat him but I didn’t want to be sure until I’d crossed the line.
“It’s a dream come true to be the world champion. I’ve been chasing this since I was a junior... I’ve never won it in any age group.
“I’ll enjoy the next year in the rainbow jersey for sure.”
I arrived on the start line with the goal of being the world champion again but Rohan [Dennis] was outstanding, that’s my story of the day.Tom Dumoulin
Dumoulin said: “I arrived on the start line with the goal of being the world champion again but Rohan [Dennis] was outstanding, that’s my story of the day.
“Sometimes you win, sometimes you lose.”
Victor Campenaerts of Belgium was third with Great Britain’s Alex Dowsett finishing in 29th place, more than five minutes off the pace, with his young team-mate, Tao Geoghegan Hart, 35th.
Britain has won just one medal at these championships so far with the mountainous route not condusive to their strengths, at least not as accommodating as the Yorkshire roads will be in 12 months time.
Attention today turns to the men’s junior road race from Kurfstein in which two Yorkshire riders are representing Great Britain; 17-year-old Sam Watson from Leeds and Mason Hollyman, 18, from Emley.