Dutch Grand Tour riders will target overall success in the Giro d'Italia rather taking on Chris Froome at the Tour de France, with Tom Dumoulin and Wilco Kelderman (Team Sunweb), Steven Kruijswijk (LottoNL-Jumbo) and Bauke Mollema (Trek-Segafredo) all opting for the 100th edition of the Corsa Rosa according to a report in Dutch newspaper De Telegraaf.
Mollema and Kruijswijk have already confirmed they aim to peak in May, with Dumoulin and Kelderman expected to confirm their 2017 race programmes on Thursday at Team Sunweb's official presentation on Thursday during the opening day of the Rotterdam Six Day event.
According to De Telegraaf, Dumoulin and Kelderman will not even ride the Tour de France, preferring to target other stage races and potentially the Vuelta a Espana. Wout Poels (Team Sky) and Robert Gesink (LottoNL-Jumbo) are expected to line up for the Tour de France Grand Depart in Dusseldorf but Poels will support Chris Froome as he tries to win for a fourth time, while Gesink will target stage victories and not worry about the overall classification.
It will be the first time since 2008 that a Dutch rider does not target the overall classification in the Tour de France. However, the Netherlands has a great chance of winning the pink jersey for the first time. Erik Breukink finished second in the 1988 edition of the race behind Andy Hampsten. Kruijswijk finished fourth in 2016 after losing the pink jersey due to a crash on the descent of the snow-covered Colle dell'Agnello.
Dumoulin won the opening time trial stage at the 2016 Giro d'Italia in Apeldoorn in the Netherlands, and led the Italian race for five days before quitting the race after stage 10.
The Giro d'Italia has attracted several surprising overall contenders, with riders seemingly preferring the balanced route that includes two time trials- including on the final stage to Milan, rather than the unconventional Tour de France route, where Froome is the favourite to win again. Thibaut Pinot has opted to ride the Giro d'Italia and will face Vincenzo Nibali and probably Nairo Quintana.
Mollema has opted to lead Trek-Segafredo at the Giro d'Italia and then will support Alberto Contador at the Tour de France.