OROPA, Italy (VN) — Dutchman Tom Dumoulin (Sunweb), winner of the Oropa summit finish Saturday and Giro d’Italia race leader, says that he is ready to win a grand tour after his experiences over the last two years.
Dumoulin led the 2015 Vuelta a España and the 2016 Giro d’Italia, experiences that paved the way to this grand tour. This time, he put all the pieces in place to take on rivals like Nairo Quintana (Movistar), Thibaut Pinot (FDJ) and Vincenzo Nibali (Bahrain-Merida) — respectively sitting second through fourth in the overall.
“I think doing really good in a grand tour is something of small details, especially wearing the leader’s jersey in the Vuelta and in the Giro last year has given me a lot of experience that I needed,” Dumoulin said.
“I am much better prepared this year with everything that comes with wearing a leader’s jersey, going hard on the climbs … It’s all small details and I’m a quick learner.”
Dumoulin celebrated another day in the pink jersey next to the Oropa sanctuary Saturday. He gained a precious 24 seconds, including a 10-second bonus, with his stage win. He now leads by 2 minutes 47 seconds.
Afterwards, he rode his black Giant carbon bike up to the press room, through the open door and between the rows of desks to an empty table — cool and relaxed as a grand tour winner.
He came close to winning one already in 2015. He began that Vuelta a España focused on the time trials and some other stages, but realized midway in that he had developed enough to fight for the overall. He kept the red leader’s jersey until the final mountain day when Fabio Aru and his Astana team-mates took over.
“For sure; I learned a lesson there that the grand tour is never over until the last day. That was a valuable lesson. I knew that in the Vuelta already, but I didn’t have the experience,” Dumoulin said.
“I knew it could happen, and it can happen again because we have only had half the climbs until now. It will be a hard third week and normally Nibali and Quintana prove strong in the third week. I still have to prove that.”
“I learned a lesson there that the grand tour is never over until the last day. That was a valuable lesson. I knew that in the Vuelta already, but I didn’t have the experience.”
Dumoulin leaned forward on the table, a pink jersey wrapping his long torso and arms. Down the mountainside, his German WorldTour team kept the Mini car waiting for its star.
“He’s more relaxed, more experienced, more used to the pressure, better prepared, meaning he knows the stages better and what he wants in the stages,” coach and sports director Aike Visbeek explained.
“I don’t have that impression that the pink jersey makes him nervous. If you win the time trial in front of the king in Holland, just by one second, then you got to be a cool guy.”
Visbeek explained that all the pieces fell in place this 2017 season. That 2015 Vuelta a España had come by chance and the 2016 season they had tuned for stage wins and the Olympic time trial, but now they planned for a grand tour win.
“Wearing the leader’s jerseys the last two times in the Vuelta and Giro is stressful, I learned that,” Dumoulin continued in the pressroom.
“It’s a big thing, the signatures and anti-doping, it’s a big thing. When it’s a stressful around me, I normally get quiet. I think that is helping me. I hope to just stay in this vibe, this feeling and this focus, then it’s good.”