Tom Dumoulin needed some time to himself to unwind after stage 3 of the Giro d’Italia. It was that kind of a day, and that kind of a finale. And so, after speaking to reporters on the finish line in Eilat, Dumoulin opted to warm down by soft-pedalling alone through the quiet streets in the hotel quarter of the Red Sea resort.
“Tom, it’s over there!” a Sunweb soigneur called out in surprise as Dumoulin glided past. “I know,” he responded as he set out for another solo lap around the houses. For a defending Giro champion, such moments of solitude are rare over the three weeks of the corsa rosa.
Once he reaches Italy on Monday, after all, Dumoulin knows he will scarcely be able to budge beyond the finish line without youthful bands of tifosi cheerfully attempting to sequester the bottles from his cages. The low density of the crowds in Eilat offered a chance to spin his legs on the road rather than on the rollers.
“It was the most stressful sprint stage I’ve ever done,” said Dumoulin, who remains second overall, a second behind Rohan Dennis (BMC), after finishing safely in the main peloton. “I looked at the weather beforehand and I saw there was a tailwind in the finale and slightly downhill, so we were riding at 70 kph like wild bulls coming into the town.”
The third and final instalment of the Giro’s Israeli Grande Partenza brought the peloton on a seeming interminable trek from Be’er Sheva through the haunting Negev desert to Eilat. At some 229 kilometres in length, it was the second longest stage of the entire Giro, and while the forecast of extreme temperatures of 40 degrees never quite materialised, the tailwind and slightly downhill run to the finish made for a most trying afternoon.
“With all the roundabouts and corners, it was very dangerous, but you knew you had to be up there to avoid losing time,” Dumoulin said. “I feel tired now like I would normally feel after a mountain stage, not a sprint stage.”
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