Christian Prudhomme, le chef du Tour de France, pulled out all the stops to convince Tom Dumoulin to ride the French grand tour instead of going for a second consecutive Giro d’Italia win.
Along with pitching the sporting history of the biggest specacele in pro cycling, Prudhoome intimated that Dumoulin has to show up because, “You also have a French name.”
Now, this obviously is an argument that Prudhomme doesn’t have to use on Romain Bardet and Warren Barguil or even Giro fan Thibaut Pinot. They’re French, with French names, they speak French, they like snails and frogs legs and goose pate and a few glasses of Bordeaux. Dumoulin, he’s sorta, kinda, almost French at least in name.
“Come to the Tour, Tom,” said Prudhomme, already treating Dumoulin like a best friend. “You’ve got a great chance to compete against a rider with the same qualities as you: Chris Froome.” Froome has an English name of South African origin but needs no extra motivation to tackle the Tour de France, in his attempt to match the record of five victories.
Prudhomme could have gone further with his name pitch. Depending on which English translation of the name Dumoulin you prefer, there’s Tom of the Mill or Tom the Grinder. Both seem like useful sobriquets for the Dutchman — ones that the A.S.O. boss could have used to refine and tighten his entreaty.
For example. “Tom, you have a French name and you’re like a mill, a powerful churning force, your wheels always turning.” Or he could have said, Tom, you have a French name and you’re a grinder, slowing crushing riders like Chris Froome under your wheels.”
So far the “French Name” gambit hasn’t born any fruit. Dumoulin insists that he’d “rather win the Giro than be on the podium of the Tour. So it pretty much depends on the routes.” With the 2018 Tour route featuring a team time trial, 23 kilometers of cobblestones and a 31 kilometer hilly time trial, the Dutchman is no doubt tempted to embrace his French-ness.
However, Giro d’Italia race director Mauro Vegni will not announce the route of the Italian grand tour until November. This gives him plenty of time to build in additional time trial kilometers to make sure Dumoulin comes back to defend his title.
Vengi can also play the same game as Prudhomme. “Tom, you have an Italian nickname, Il Bello — The Beautiful. What grand tour is more beautiful than the Giro d’Italia?”