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Giant DS doubtful Dumoulin can win Giro

Giant – Alpecin director Marc Reef has doubts that Tom Dumoulin can win the Giro overall, but the team is equipped to support him in the mountains.

FOLIGNO, Italy (VN) — The days tick by in the Giro d’Italia and Tom Dumoulin builds his pink jersey lead, but team Giant – Alpecin insists that its Dutch star is not in Italy to win the race overall.

“I don’t think that he’s able to win the Giro d’Italia,” Giant sport director Marc Reef told VeloNews. “Of course, he did well in yesterday’s mountaintop finish, a long one, but you can’t compare it to the Dolomites or Alps, whatever we face in the third week.”

Dumoulin leads by 41 seconds on Alejandro Valverde (Movistar), 47 on Vincenzo Nibali (Astana), 51 on Rigoberto Urán (Cannondale), 53 on Esteban Chaves (Orica – GreenEdge), and 1:08 on Mikel Landa (Sky). The Giro still must race for two weeks and into the high Alpine passes, but in Dumoulin’s favor, it features a long 40.5-kilometer time trial Sunday through the Chianti hills.

“The Olympic time trial in August is the goal; that’s why he didn’t go to an altitude camp before the Giro d’Italia. The goal was also the Tour de Romandie, we had those two early goals. The time trials are the focus, the shorter stage races like Paris-Nice, Romandie and later on, the Eneco Tour. Next year, he will focus on the grand tours,” Reef added.

In recent grand tours, however, the 25-year-old Dutchman has impressed with his time trialing and resilience through the mountains. In the Vuelta a España last year, he won an uphill finish over Chris Froome (Sky) and time trialled his way into the lead. Only Fabio Aru (Astana), on the final mountain stage, could topple Dumoulin.

It has been a similar story in the Giro d’Italia. Dumoulin dominated the opening time trial at home in Apeldoorn and attacked to gain more time in yesterday’s gentle, windswept climb to Roccaraso. With the 40.5-kilometer TT on the horizon, anything seems possible. If Dumoulin can take one to two minutes on top favorites like Nibali, then he could conceivably fight through the high Alpine passes and defend his pink jersey to the Torino finish May 29.

“Everything is possible. It’s difficult to say,” Reef added. “We didn’t prepare for a GC, and he’s kind of surprising us here already with the finish to Roccaraso. But then on a climb like that, it suited him with seven-percent grades, some flats, and three percent in the final.”

Part of Dumoulin’s downfall in the Vuelta was his own team, or at least the men the German WorldTour team sent to Spain for the three-week race. Since it did not consider Dumoulin an overall contender, it sent riders to fight for stage wins and to help lead John Degenkolb in the sprints.

“Here we came with guys who can climb and go longer uphill. Our approach for this Giro was to go for stage results. In that way, we took guys who can climb and ride from breakaways,” Reef continued.

“There are always teams interested in the GC or the stage result, and will try something. Tom is in the position now that it is not necessary that we do something. We can hold a little back in that way.”

Giant may have already gained an ally for the Alps. Yesterday, Dumoulin told Tim Wellens (Lotto – Soudal) that he thought he should attack and join the break. The advice paid off because Wellens did so and hung on for the stage win. Though Reef would not say so, Lotto could return the favor if Dumoulin needs help en route to Torino.

Like Reef said, “Everything is possible.”