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Dumoulin ‘proved himself a big champion’

CERVINA, Italy (VN) — Tom Dumoulin (Sunweb) never stopped being a threat in the 2018 Giro d’Italia. Taking swings at Chris Froome (Sky) in the final mountain day, on the final pass, for a chance to win a second consecutive title.

Dumoulin failed, but he consistently left a mark on the Giro d’Italia and will likely factor in many grand tours to come.

“We did everything we could, there was nothing more we could do today,” Dumoulin’s main mountain helper Sam Oomen said. “We gave it all, this is the result.”

The result: Second overall at 46 seconds behind Froome.

The world champion won the opening time trial in Jerusalem and began the 2018 edition how he ended 2017, in pink. He let it go but consistently rode second best to Simon Yates (Mitchelton-Scott). He just could not stop Froome’s rapid rise behind an 80-kilometer flyer from the Colle delle Finestre to Jafferau yesterday. After the dust settled, he remained second.

Dumoulin began the final day to Cervinia 40 seconds in arrears, only this time behind Froome. Mikel Nieve (Mitchelton-Scott) won the stage to the ski station from a long-range escape. Behind, Dumoulin attacked roughly five times, each one closely marked by Froome.

“Not only the final day,” added Oomen, “but the whole Giro, he proved himself of a big champion.”

“No, I have no regrets,” Dumoulin explained below the snow-covered Matterhorn peak.

“I’m super proud of the team and myself. This is what it is: second overall. There was nothing I could do to beat Froome.

“I’d have blamed myself if I hadn’t tried. I was just tired today but I tried everything I had. Froome was the better rider.”

Dumoulin won the mid-race time trial in 2017. He rode defensively in the high-mountains with Nairo Quintana and Vincenzo Nibali. On the final day in Milan, a time trial, he overhauled Quintana to take the pink jersey.

He became the first Dutchman to win the Giro d’Italia. It also marked his first grand tour win after a steady rise since nearly winning the 2015 Vuelta a España.

“The course was so much harder this year,” Dumoulin said. “But it’s easier to be an attacker than to be a defender. Being in pink meant a lot of extra stress last year.

“It’s really difficult to carry the pink. Look at Simon Yates. It’s more comfortable to be the attacker. It was absurdly hard this year, but I’ve made it in the end.”

The three weeks also confirmed one of The Netherlands’s most promising stars, Sam Oomen. The 22-year-old in only his second grand tour placed ninth overall.

“I’m just happy general that I finish the grand tour in a healthy way,” Oomen continued. “I saw last year in the Vuelta a España how quickly things can change. Sunday your stomach gets f**ked up and your back home.

“I was a little bit worried this Giro because it’s also… every day was so tough, we had one or two easy sprint stages and the rest were all chaotic and pretty tough, so… that point gives me a good feeling.”

Oomen took part of the blame for Dumoulin not winning the Giro d’Italia a second time.

“Anyway, Tom could have won this Giro? I also wondered that myself if we could’ve done something different, only yesterday was a critical moment on the Finestre, he needed someone there in the final to keep the gap close to Froome, someone like me, but I wasn’t able to follow the best five guys on the Finestre. That’s the only thing.”

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