Tom Dumoulin 'feels better than last year' ahead of Giro d'Italia defence

Tom Dumoulin (Team Sunweb) said that he lacked the critical punch to follow the key attacks at Liège-Bastogne-Liège when the race exploded. However, he claims that he is still going better than this time last year as he gears up for the defence of his Giro d’Italia title.

Dumoulin finished 15th at La Doyenne, 1:24 behind the winner Bob Jungels (Quick-Step Floors), having lost touch inside the final 30 kilometres of the race. The Dutchman had only come down from altitude training at the Sierra Nevada a few days before riding Liège-Bastogne-Liège and told reporters at the finish line that he was still feeling the after-effects. But he was pleased with how he responded during the race.

"I missed a real acceleration just like last year and I was just not good enough to win a Classic," he told NOS immediately after the race. "But I felt better than last year here, which is why I am very satisfied. I enjoyed it and helped the team well."

Thinking about the Giro d'Italia

Liege-Bastogne-Liege is Dumoulin’s final race before the Giro d’Italia begins at the end on Friday May 4. He will go there as defending champion after beating Nairo Quintana (Movistar) in the final time trial in Milan. This season, he will face four-time Tour de France champion Chris Froome (Team Sky) and recent Tour of the Alps winner Thibaut Pinot (Groupama-FDJ), plus many more, in what looks to be another hotly contested general classification battle.

Dumoulin's build-up to the Giro d'Italia has been less than ideal after he crashed out of Tirreno-Adriatico last month. However, he avoided any serious injury and returned to racing at Milan-San Remo before doing a recon of the Tour de France cobbles and subsequently heading to Spain for altitude racing. 

Dumoulin said that his intention had not been to go out and take victory at Liege-Bastogne-Liege, but it gave him a solid final test ahead of his bigger goal. 

The Giro d’Italia starts with a 9.7km individual time trial through the streets of Jerusalem, giving Dumoulin a chance to immediately gain time on some of his overall rivals.

"If I want to win here, then, of course, I have to prepare very differently," Dumoulin said. "Then I would not be returning from a high altitude camp a few days before the start. But, this was a good preparation for me and I'm not completely tired, which is a good sign. It was a very good final stimulus for the Giro. The feeling is a bit like last year and then I was not particularly bad at the Giro...”

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