The Dutchman rode the Giro and the Tour de France in 2016, leading the Giro in the opening week before winning two stages at the Tour de France. Ever since a strong ride in the 2015 Vuelta a Espana, the Sunweb rider has looked to improve his GC capabilities and during his team’s presentation in Germany he confirmed his plans for this season.
“We said we were going for GC and I think my chances are higher at the Giro than at the Tour because there’s more time trialling in Italy and also there’s more competition at the Tour,” he told Cyclingnews.
“On the downside the Giro is a lot harder this year because there’s a lot of climbing and there are a lot of stages where if you have a bad day then you lose a lot of time. The Tour de France has less of them. If you see the big mountain stages at the Tour in the Alps the climbs are maybe 15 kilometres long. That’s nothing compared to the Giro. That makes it dangerous on the one hand but also exciting. Also the Giro is a bit less in the spotlight. I really love the Giro, the atmosphere and I can’t wait to go back.”
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Dumoulin will be supported by strong Sunweb team, including new signing and former Giro top-10 finisher, Wilco Kelderman and his priority for GC is demonstrated by his decision to skip the Tour de France, which starts with an individual time trial and the chance to pull on the maillot jaune.
“Actually I really didn’t know what I would do to start with, when it came to deciding on the plan. There’s really only one jersey missing from my collection as I have the maglia rosa and the red jersey from the Vuelta. I’ve won stages in all three Grand Tours but not worn yellow. With the time trial on the first stage of the Tour I first thought about doing that so I could try for the yellow jersey either on the first day or in the first week after the first stages but like I said the Giro suits me better this year.”
Dumoulin’s first part of 2017 is already taking shape. The Olympic silver medallist will open his season in the Middle East before heading to Italy for a block of racing. He will mix in altitude camps before his main objective. He is leaving the door open for the Tour de France but lining up in Dusseldorf will primarily depend on how he performs at the Giro.
“I’ll be focusing first on Abu Dhabi first, as it has a nice uphill finish. Then I’ll do the Italian programme with Strade Bianche, Tirreno and Milan-San Remo. For me Tirreno is an objective. Then I’ll do altitude camps, the Giro and after that it’s a bit uncertain still. It’s not all about the Giro so I want to do well in a number of races. Then in the late season it’s the Worlds in Norway with the uphill finish in the time trial.”