Giro d'Italia winner Tom Dumoulin has announced his schedule for the second half of 2017 with the Bergen Worlds his primary objective. The Team Sunweb rider will race Clásica Ciclista San Sebastian, BinckBank Tour, and the Canadian WorldTour one-day races in preparation for the September event.
The 26-year-old hasn't raced since the Dutch national championships, where he won the time trial and was 47th in the road race with teammate Ramon Sinkeldam taking the win. With his return to racing next weekend at Clasica Ciclista San Sebastian, he has been training at altitude in preparation for his second half to 2017.
Writing on his personal Facebook page, Dumoulin explained the rationale behind his racing schedule was to ensure he doesn't burn out and arrive at the Worlds empty. Even though it means missing the Vuelta a Espana next month.
"These months I will primarily focus on the World Championships in Bergen. Especially on the individual TT, but I hope to do well on the TTT and the road race as well. And as you may have noticed at my calendar, no Vuelta!", he wrote. "Surprising maybe, that's why I would like to explain shortly. I'm in love with the race. I pretty much had my breakthrough Grand Tour there in 2015 and I love the tranquility of the race, yet the passionate fans at the same time.
"It was also on my mind, and the team's, to go there to help Wilco [Kelderman] fight for GC and to hunt for stages myself and prepare for the Worlds at the same time. But then winning the Giro happened... Very cool, but crazy times followed and after my holiday at the beginning of July me and the team started to doubt if had it in me, physically and mentally, to do a super busy program and a second Grand Tour (altitude camp, San Sebastian, Eneco, Vuelta) and to be at my best shape at the Worlds after that."
Dumoulin's breakthrough Grand Tour came at the 2015 Vuelta when he won two stages, wore the leader's jersey for six days and finished in sixth place after cracking on the penultimate day. Despite the fact that he would have been considered a favourite for the overall podium in Spain, Dumoulin explained that he is looking forward to the challenges ahead.
"With doing the Vuelta there would be quite the chance that it would all prove to be too much for me and that I would not be good enough in the Vuelta, bad at the Worlds following and then to go into the winter with a bad feeling. What a shame that would be after such a year for me and the team," he said.
"So, we chose the 'safer' approach to the Worlds and the last part of the season by doing the Canadian one-day races. I did them in 2014 and ended up second and sixth so I'm also really looking forward to those super cool races!"
Dumoulin concluded that the change in programme won't necessarily lead to guaranteed success, but remains confident that the plan laid out by the team is the best available option.
"In top sport nothing's certain and top shape doesn't always come when you want it, so also this program unfortunately doesn't guarantee the legs of my life at the right moment, but I will do my very best to work hard and then we'll see at the Worlds."
Third in the 2014 Ponferrada Worlds time trial, Dumoulin will start the race against the clock as one the favourites for the rainbow jersey and create more Dutch cycling history in 2017.