Tom Dumoulin may join Chris Froome in missing the Tour de France as the Team Sunweb rider struggles to make a full recovery from a knee injury sustained during Stage 4 of last month's Giro d'Italia that led to him abandoning the race the following day.
The Dutch rider struggled in yesterday’s Stage 4 time trial at the Dauphiné, finishing 47 seconds behind stage winner Wout van Aert of Jumbo-Visma.
Speaking to Eurosport, Dumoulin, who was second overall to Geraint Thomas at last year’s Tour de France, said: "If the knee doesn't improve, or I can't improve the form I have now, then it doesn't make much sense to me [to go to the Tour]."
"I have certainly not closed that book yet, because it has improved in recent weeks," Dumoulin added. "But it's just not going fast enough for me.
"I know that it is not possible at all, realistically speaking, but it frustrates me that I cannot win any races at the moment," he added.
Dumoulin’s knee still has traces of swelling more than a month after the crash in Italy, and he also revealed that it left him with a small shard of metal embedded in his leg.
With Froome out for at least six months due to the fractures sustained in his crash while previewing yesterday's course, his Team Ineos colleague and last year's yellow jersey winner would be the only one of last year's podium finishers to race the Tour de France next month should Dumoulin withdraw.
Other riders considered contenders for the overall include another Team Ineos rider, Egan Bernal, now recovered from the broken collarbone sustained in a training crash that forced him to miss the Giro d'Italia, Movistar's Nairo Quintana, and Adam Yates of Mitchelton-Scott.
2014 champion Vincenzo Nibali of UAE Team Emirates, second overall at the Giro, has said that he aims to go for stage wins and the polka dot jersey rather than the overall - although it's possible that the absence of Froome and potentially Dumoulin may make him rethink his plans.
Simon joined road.cc as news editor in 2009 and is now the site’s community editor, acting as a link between the team producing the content and our readers. A law and languages graduate, published translator and former retail analyst, he has reported on issues as diverse as cycling-related court cases, anti-doping investigations, the latest developments in the bike industry and the sport’s biggest races. Now back in London full-time after 15 years living in Oxford and Cambridge, he loves cycling along the Thames but misses having his former riding buddy, Elodie the miniature schnauzer, in the basket in front of him.