FLORENCE, Italy (VN) — Tom Dumoulin’s status changed. The Dutchman of team Sunweb, winner of the Giro d’Italia on Sunday, is now a favorite for any grand tour, says team Movistar boss Eusebio Unzué.
Dumoulin rode consistently throughout the Italian grand tour and overhauled Movistar’s star Nairo Quintana in the stage 21 time trial to Milan. In a sizzling Piazza del Duomo, the 26-year-old received the spiral trophy. To Unzué, that signaled the arrival of a new era.
“He progressed hugely. Probably his body is developing and he’s maturing,” Unzué said. “He’ll now be a favorite in any grand tour.”
Dumoulin placed second in the time trial but finished the Giro 31 ticks ahead of Quintana in the 3,609.1-kilometer race to win the pink jersey.
He became the first Dutchman to earn a grand tour victory since Joop Zoetemelk (1980 Tour de France), and the first to win the Giro in its 100-year history.
Unzué believes Dumoulin is opening a new grand tour chapter along with Quintana, Bob Jungels (Quick-Step Floors), Adam Yates (Orica-Scott), Thibaut Pinot (FDJ), and Romain Bardet (Ag2r-La Mondiale).
“More than improving, he needs to consolidate this consistency. The rest, he does well, he climbs and he time trials like no one else. At 26 years old, he is one of those cyclists,” Unzué said.
“Dumoulin won this one and he could’ve won the Vuelta a España two years ago, just losing it in the last 24 hours.
“In the Giro, he had luck in a couple of complicated moments, but for sure, he had a big Giro. He benefited from his time trial strength to make the differences and then in the climbs, you see he made big strides.”
Dumoulin stumbled into the role of grand tour leader in 2015, when midway through the Vuelta he and the team saw he had a chance of winning. In 2016, they focused only on stage wins — he won one in the Giro and two in the Tour — and the Olympic time trial — he placed second behind Fabian Cancellara.
He will race in the Tour de Suisse in June and back off before building again for the Vuelta. Next year, he could take his first stab at the Tour’s yellow jersey and Chris Froome’s reign.
“He’s in that style of Bradley Wiggins, but as a climber, he’s even more complete,” continued Unzué. “Also in the style of Miguel [Indurain], who made big differences in the time trials and after, managed himself on the summit finishes.”
Unzué managed Indurain to five Tour de France titles from 1991 to 1995. He now looks over Quintana, who this year tried for the Giro-Tour double. The Colombian will use June to rest and recalibrate, and will not race until the Tour kicks off in Düsseldorf on July 1.
“For sure, he wasn’t the same complete and brilliant Nairo that we’ve seen. But in one way or another, he was there with the favorites every day. Through the final day, riding in the pink jersey,” said Unzué.
“We did what we did to be here in top condition. In the days remaining, he’ll work off this base. The Giro was the perfect base for the Tour.”