Giro d'Italia
Photo: Justin Setterfield/Getty Images (FILE)

Dumoulin: ‘Hopefully there’s a big win waiting for me this year’

Dutchman satisfied with year-on-year progress and relishing a Giro heavy on time trials.

FLORENCE, Italy (VN) — Tom Dumoulin (Sunweb) is “very happy” with the 2018 season, second place in both the Giro d’Italia and the Tour de France, but hopes for the “big win” this year.

The Dutchman starts the Giro d’Italia on Saturday. He won the Italian grand tour in 2017 by conquering Vincenzo Nibali (Bahrain-Merida), Nairo Quintana (Movistar), and others.

“Of course you always want more but I was very happy with last year and maybe even happier than I was with 2017 because I think I grew from 2017,” he told VeloNews.

“Second place is second place and I always want to win, but last year it wasn’t meant to be. But I was still very happy with the season and hopefully there is a big win waiting for me this year.”

Dumoulin ran second to Simon Yates (Mitchelton-Scott) for most of the Giro and when Yates cracked, held his ground but not close enough to stop Chris Froome (Ineos) from soloing away. In the Tour, Dumoulin was second only to Froome’s teammate Geraint Thomas.

Froome is focusing on the Tour to win that fifth title. Dumoulin is part of a star list lining up for the Giro on Saturday in Bologna. He will face Nibali, Yates, Primoz Roglic (Jumbo-Visma), Bob Jungels (Deceuninck-Quick Step), and Miguel Angel López (Team Astana).

In his favor as the 2017 world champion, the Giro organizer included three time trials. The race opens with an 8.2-kilometer time trial, includes a 34.8-kilometer time trial to San Marino after the first week, and ends with another one in Verona.

“That’s also the main reason that we decided to go for the Giro again because of the beautiful route they laid out,” Dumoulin said. “It is really nice and has a lot of time trial kilometers, a lot of difficult time trial kilometers, which also makes a difference between me and other GC riders, they are slightly uphill but I really like these.”

The opening stage climbs up to the San Luca sanctuary where the Giro dell’Emilia finishes. Jungels should manage the time trials well and so should hot favorite Primoz Roglic. Roglic won all three races he entered this year: The UAE Tour, Tirreno-Adriatico and last week, the Tour de Romandie.

“I would say for sure I expect a lot from Primoz and of course… he definitely gave me a hard time at the Tour de France and that was his first race fighting for the GC, so I’m expecting even more from him this year. And then of course guys like Nibali, Lopez. It’s kind of the new fighting the old, and I guess I’m somewhere in the middle!” the 28-year-old added.

“Yates, last time was giving us all a hard time on the mountain stages [with three stage wins in the 2018 Giro] and with the shape he’s in, he will be there again.

“It’s very difficult to fight against those riders [Yates and Roglic] on the uphill because they can go and go and attack and attack, and I’m not able to so I just have to take the decision to sometimes not follow and hope for the best. Then I can keep him on a leash. I can follow attacks but not as many as he is throwing at me. It all depends on the legs eventually.”

Wilco Kelderman is unable to help Dumoulin due to an injury, but others including Texan Chad Haga and Sam Oomen make up Sunweb’s eight-man roster.