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JERUSALEM (VN) — Tom Dumoulin (Sunweb) made history by becoming the first Dutchman to win the Giro d’Italia in 2017. He closed out stage 1 of the 2018 Giro the same way he ended last year’s race: in pink. But his gains in Jerusalem were surprising ahead of rivals like Chris Froome (Sky) and others.
Dumoulin began as a favorite to win the opening time trial given he is world champion. He topped temporary leader Rohan Dennis (BMC Racing) to win the stage and gained early massive amounts on some of his most dangerous GC rivals.
Four-time Tour de France victor Chris Froome (Sky), who crashed in training, lost 37 seconds. Italian Fabio Aru (UAE Team Emirates) ended the day 50 seconds behind. Some were slightly worse or better, but Dumoulin began his three-week tour with a huge step forward.
“It’s a bit of a surprise that it’s so big, the difference, but I expected differences, of course, maybe they’d be bigger in a flat or easier time trial stage,” Dumoulin said.
“This one was really challenging and it suited me very well. I’m technically really good on the TT bike. Also the internals: full gas and then recover, full gas and recover. That’s exactly made for me.”
The short, 9.7-kilometer stage finished at the Jaffa Gate, on the edge of the Old City. It was the first time the Giro or any grand tour ever travelled outside of mainland Europe.
“It’s very special for me to win here, the start in Israel has been quite cool,” Dumoulin added. “It’s been a cool few days so to top it off with a win, I’m pretty happy.”
Dumoulin took his bike when he first arrived to tour the Old City. He said he could not resist, riding around it and then into the ancient streets steeped in history.
The streets outside shined and appeared slick for Friday’s time trial. Froome went full-speed in a training ride and slid through a corner. Dumoulin’s top rival began his time trial with road rash and blood showing.
“I think Froome might have lost more time because of that,” said Dumoulin. “If you crash in the recon it’s never nice and then you take that into the corners, you know you crashed there before. That’s very unfortunate for him.”
“I am not relying on time trails to win this Giro,” Froome explained afterwards. “Tom did a great ride today so to win like he did today was impressive, so chapeau to him. He is the world time trial champion, so I am not too surprised by him.”
The ride means Dumoulin should hold the pink jersey at least through stage 6 to Mount Etna. Froome and others will have to attack if they intend on taking the pink jersey from Dumoulin. Sunweb will have to defend over the coming week, at least.
“It’s nice to be in the pink jersey, but it will be hard to keep it for three weeks,” Dumoulin said. “We aren’t planning on defending it every day so we will see what we do with that in the coming days.”