Sunweb’s Tom Dumoulin hit out after stage 19 of the Tour de France, insisting that rival Primoz Roglic used the draught from a television motorbike to help him charge away from his rivals.
Roglic won the 200.5km race from Lourdes to Laruns on the Tour’s last unforgiving day through the mountains, sprinting home to win the stage by 19 seconds.
The stage was also notable for race leader Geraint Thomas adding to his race lead. The Team Sky rider now leads Dumoulin by two minutes and five seconds.
Roglic is a further 19 seconds adrift, while four-time Tour winner and defending champion Chris Froome is two minutes and 37 seconds behind Thomas.
But Dumoulin was angry after missing a chance to make up valuable time on Thomas and he claimed Roglic was advantaged by a television motorbike.
“Primoz was the strongest today and I have a lot of respect for his victory,” he said.
“He was flying downhill and eventually I got dropped on a straight part just because he was on his top tube and full in the slipstream of the motorbike.
“I was sprinting to his wheel and I could not get closer and I just got dropped on the only straight part of the downhill.
“It’s ridiculous. I’m not happy, of course not. I’m f—ing disappointed.”
When quizzed if he would lodge an official protest, Dumoulin said he would not, adding “it makes no sense”.
Roglic rejected Dumoulin’s comments.
“I don’t think so … so it’s hard to comment,” he said.
“We all have the same opportunity to be on the front on the descents. I didn’t notice anything unusual.”
Thomas tried to keep focused on the end goal in the aftermath of stage 19.
“I’m certainly in a good position but I’m still trying not to get carried away and think about winning the yellow jersey,” Thomas told the BBC.
“As soon as you take you eye off the ball, you can slip up.
“I’ve got a two-minute advantage but still need to ride well … I hope it’s enough.”
Speaking to reporters, Thomas later added: “Surely it is enough … we’ll see.”
On the final day in the Pyrenees, general classification contender Mikel Landa was involved in a significant breakaway.
That helped the Movistar rider to within 80 seconds of Thomas, causing some minor panic within the Team Sky camp.
But Landa did not get any closer as Dumoulin led a charge towards the breakaway, with Thomas in hot pursuit.
Thomas, who later said he was doing anything he could to follow Dumoulin, could not count on the support of teammate Froome, who was left lagging behind.
Thomas had more pace than Dumoulin when it really counted, winning a sprint against his rival to pick up six bonus seconds, and while Roglic crossed the line unchallenged, this was another significant day in the Welshman’s bid for Tour de France glory.
What is to come?
A 31km time trial is ahead for riders on a potentially decisive Saturday (local time), the penultimate stage of the race.
Protocol dictates that there are no changes to the standings in Sunday’s final stage, meaning that all riders need to do is finish to remain in the order they start the day in.
All that means the likes of Dumoulin, Roglic and Froome have to go all-out in the time trial.
And while both Dumoulin, the world time trial champion, and Froome, a very accomplished time trial rider himself, have significant credentials, so does Thomas.
He won the British time trials only last month.
Stage 19 results
1. Primoz Roglic (LottoNL-Jumbo) 5 hrs 28 mins 17 secs
2. Geraint Thomas (Team Sky) + 19 secs
3. Romain Bardet (AG2R La Mondiale) same time
4. Daniel Martin (UAE Team Emirates) same time
5. Rafal Majka (Bora-Hansgrohe) same time
6. Tom Dumoulin (Sunweb) same time
7. Mikel Landa (Movistar) same time
8. Chris Froome (Team Sky) same time
9. Steven Kruijswijk (Lotto NL-Jumbo) + 31 secs
10. Ilnur Zakarin (Katusha-Alpecin) same time
General classification standings
1. Geraint Thomas (Team Sky) 79 hrs 49 mins 31 secs
2. Tom Dumoulin (Sunweb) + 2 mins 5 secs
3. Primoz Roglic (LottoNL-Jumbo) + 2 mins 24 secs
4. Chris Froome (Team Sky) + 2 mins 37 secs
5. Steven Kruijswijk (Lotto NL-Jumbo) + 4 mins 37 secs
6. Mikel Landa (Movistar) + 4 mins 40 secs
7. Romain Bardet (AG2R La Mondiale) + 5 mins 15 secs
8. Daniel Martin (UAE Team Emirates) + 6 mins 39 secs
9. Nairo Quintana (Movistar) + 10 mins 26 secs
10. Ilnur Zakarin (Katusha-Alpecin) + 11 mins 49 secs