The Tour de France's Grand Depart is just days away, and the Dutch fans are eagerly awaiting a potential historic moment: Giant-Alpecin's Tom Dumoulin is a prime candidate to win the opening time trial and become the first Dutchman since Erik Breukink in 1989 to don the maillot jaune. With two time trial wins and a third place overall in the recent Tour de Suisse, his supporters have been whipped into a frenzy, already donning yellow shirts that read "Ik ben een Dumoulist", but the man himself has been studiously ignoring the pressure.
Dumoulin said he's not making a big deal about the possibility of taking the first yellow jersey in Utrecht. "That's something for the media to do," he said. "As the time trial approaches I care less and less what people think. I'm just doing my thing. I trained well on Monday and again today."
The 24-year-old fell well short of victory in the Dutch national championship time trial last weekend, but his sub-par performance was of little worry after the Tour de Suisse, where he turned himself inside out defending the race lead, ultimately losing it on the Rettenbach glacier and then falling 19 seconds shy of the overall win, taken by Katusha's Simon Spilak.
"The national time trial championships was not good, but I knew that could happen after the Tour de Suisse. There's about a week and a half between the championship and the start of the Tour de France. Everything is under control."
It was reported that he was ill for the Dutch championship, but Dumoulin said he regretted that this came out because he didn't want it to seem like he was already making excuses in case he had a disappointing showing on Saturday.
"I have no trouble with the expectations," he said. "Maybe I can be satisfied with a second or third place, provided that I know for sure that I have left everything out there. The trick is to focus and continue to have a good attitude.''
Team manager Rudi Kemna realizes the pressure that racing in his home country puts on his rider, but he is confident Dumoulin can handle it. "Despite the Dutch championship, he isn't panicking. He is a very mature, studious rider. He is very relaxed," Kemna said.
Koen de Kort, who raced with Dumoulin in the Tour de Suisse is also confident that his teammate can withstand the pressure. "I still haven't seen him change. In Switzerland there was a lot of pressure and he handled it well," de Kort said. "There is one difference. Because it is so long ago that a Dutchman was in yellow, he will be bearing a bit of the 'weight of a nation' on his shoulders."
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