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Tom Dumoulin knows that losing time on GC probably...

Dumoulin will lose time on purpose

Tom Dumoulin will lose time on purpose, ending his GC ambitions, so that he can chase a stage win in the final week

GREVE IN CHIANTI, Italy (VN) — A few bad days have Tom Dumoulin rethinking this Giro. A “wait and see” approach to the general classification has turned into an intention to lose time and dreams of a stage win.

“Somewhere, I’m going to lose time in the coming week so that I can hopefully get in the break in the last week,” he said on Sunday.

Dumoulin sits only 58 seconds off the pink jersey he owned for a week, but it’s not his overall position that has him looking for success away from GC. The last two days of racing both fell below his expectations. “I think it’s very difficult for me for the GC,” he said. “You saw yesterday that I had quite some bad days. I didn’t really care for the high mountains.”

Dumoulin has suffered from both bad legs and a saddle sore he described as “quite troubling.” He lost more than a minute on key rivals like Alejandro Valverde (Movistar) on Saturday. He’s grateful for the coming rest day, he said, “so not only my legs and my body can recover, but also the area down there.”

With the realization that a high overall placing is unlikely, the Dutchman turns his attention toward a stage win in the final week. There are certain constants in bike racing, though, and one is that no rider close on GC is allowed in a breakaway. Other teams will chase down every break he enters. To get in a winning move he’ll first have to lose time — close to 10 minutes of it to be allowed real freedom.

“I better lose some time now that I can go in the break in a day and really go for a stage result again. [Better] that than if I fight and fight and fight and then lose 10 minutes somewhere in the high mountains, and then be 12th or 14th on GC. That’s nothing to me.”

Dumoulin in pink was confident and relaxed, a different rider from the one in the red jersey at the Vuelta. It was good practice, he said, for when he turns his attention back to overall wins after the Olympic time trial. The routine of the jersey — the press obligations, the late return to the hotel, extra time spent doing anything but sitting around with his feet up — requires rehearsal. This Giro has been just that.

When he aims for an overall, he’ll approach the first week of a race differently. “I don’t think I will try to take the lead already in the first week, because it takes energy, not only for me but definitely also for the team,” he said.

A week in pink undoubtedly took some energy from Dumoulin, and certainly his team. His teammates have ridden the front, controlling breakaways and setting the tempo for the field. It was a massive energy expenditure that they paid for when the race hit its first climbs. Dumoulin was quickly isolated. But Dumoulin wouldn’t give up any of it, he said. Not at this Giro, anyway. He’s comfortable missing out on an overall GC chance after his near-perfect first week.

“I wouldn’t have missed that,” he said.