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GUALDO TADINO, Italy (VN) — Tom Dumoulin, the 2017 Giro d’Italia victor, admits that winning the 2018 edition will be difficult given the strength of race leader Simon Yates and his Mitchelton-Scott team.
Dumoulin became the first Dutchman to win the famous Italian grand tour last year thanks to a deadly mix of time trialing and climbing. He won the first long time trial and used the one on the last day in Milan to overtake Nairo Quintana (Movistar) for the race win. At the end of the season, he won the world time trial championship.
In the 2018 Giro, he won the first time trial stage in Jerusalem, but with only a second time trial of 34.2 kilometers and an electrifying Yates, Dumoulin is worried.
Ahead of the final two weeks, he sits 38 seconds behind pink jersey Yates.
“I know it’s going to be a real challenge to win this Giro, for sure,” Dumoulin said on the race’s first proper rest day in Pescara.
“At the moment, when the differences on the climbs stay like this, when I’m losing every time, a little bit, it’s going to be very difficult to win the Giro. But you never know what will happen, and I’m definitely not pessimistic.”
Yates’s strong point is his WorldTour team that is rallying behind his dominance. He rode an impressive time trial, finishing seventh, took precious seconds in the Sicilian stages, and Yates donned the pink jersey on the Mount Etna stage with a rocket-like attack on the established stars.
To underline his dominance, Yates won the Gran Sasso stage and took the bonus seconds with it on the eve of the rest day in Pescara.
One issue could be Esteban Chaves. Yates’s Colombian teammate won the Mount Etna stage and sat second overall, but slipped behind immediately as stage 10 began Tuesday. And another big hurdle is the time trial to Rovereto. Yates did well in Jerusalem, but risks dropping like a rock against Froome and Dumoulin next Tuesday.
Dumoulin, 27, wants to take advantage but realizes that 34.2 kilometers will be insufficient to properly sink the British leader.
“Last year, I had two long time trials waiting for me, and this one is medium-length, so that’s different,” Dumoulin added.
“I know that I cannot take so much time on Yates in one time trial. He also did well in the prologue, so it will be difficult.
“It all depends on the legs [if I can take minutes on Yates]. If I have a bad day, I definitely won’t take two minutes.”
Dumoulin is riding better than Chris Froome (Sky) and Fabio Aru (UAE Team Emirates) but is gradually losing time. He gained 20 seconds on Yates in the Jerusalem time trial. However, he lost four seconds in the first Sicilian stage, another 32 on Etna and 22 on Gran Sasso.
“In the first nine days, they were pretty spot on: perfect riding and in perfect position,” Dumoulin said of Yates’s team before stage 10 when Chaves lost ground.
“The most decisive day ahead this week? Monte Zoncolan, of course. And the day after [to Sappada] is really hard, it’s not be underestimated, but the Zoncolan is going to be very difficult.”