International Cycling

Bike change storm in a tea-cup for Dumoulin

2017-09-21 08:25
Tom Dumoulin (Gallo Images)

Bergen - World champion Tom Dumoulin sparked a storm when his promptings led to cycling bosses agreeing to let riders change bikes during Wednesday's world championships time-trial.

Back in the spring, the Dutch cycling federation had asked global governing body the UCI to allow a bike change for the time-trial course which finished on a steep 3.4km climb after 28km of normal, flat riding. 

The idea was to allow Dumoulin, who went on to win gold, the chance to ride a specialist time-trial bike with a back wheel disc for the first 28km and then jump off and onto a normal road bike for the twisting ascent to the finish. 

That move sparked outrage from four-time world champion Tony Martin, who feared it would cost him a chance of defending his title, but after the UCI gave the go-ahead, several riders opted to make the change on a specially laid out red carpet just before the climb began. 

That led to farcical scenes in Bergen as several riders, including Kazakh Alexey Lutsenko, clumsily leapt off one and onto the other, almost toppling over as he did so. 

But when Dumoulin's turn came, like many of the other leading contenders, he simply decided to stay on his time-trial bike and soldier on up the hill. 

"I was doubting for a long time actually," he said after securing his first world title, with Primoz Roglic of Slovenia second and Briton Chris Froome third. 

"At first I thought definitely bike change, but then I saw the climb last Friday and was already doubting. 

"Then yesterday I thought 'let's not take the risk'. 

"I'm one of the guys who can do a good climb on a TT bike, I have no problems handling it - so it was the right decision, I think." 

Most riders had dry conditions for their race and decided to change bikes but once the heavens opened, making the time-trial bike a more risky option for a slippery climb, the leading contenders almost to a man decided not to change bikes. 

In the case of Dumoulin, the decision had been made before he set off, and because he had expected to be riding in the dry. 

"It started raining and I needed to take the corners really slowly, especially in the first kilometre of the climb with all the twists and turns," he said. 

"On every corner my back wheel was slipping as I had the TT bike because I thought it was going to be dry!" 

There was no way of telling if a change - which was thought could gain 20-30sec while taking less than 10sec to perform - had any effect on the outcome. 

Roglic was one to change and he was fastest up the climb but Dumoulin was second quickest and didn't. 

Portugal's Nelson Oliveira climbed from fifth to fourth while Wilco Kelderman went from 11th to seventh after changing their bikes. 

But Froome climbed from seventh to third and Rohan Dennis of Australia surged back from 22nd to eighth after sticking to their TT bikes, leaving that debate a mystery.

Read more on:    tom dumoulin  |  cycling


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