FLORENCE, Italy (VN) — Tom Dumoulin reportedly will return to race the 2018 Giro d’Italia and defend his title, despite some speculation to the contrary.
Sunweb’s Dumoulin became the first Dutchman to win the Italian grand tour this spring. Later in 2017, the 27-year-old won the world time trial championships ahead of Tour de France star Chris Froome (Sky), who confirmed his presence in the Giro Wednesday.
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“He will say ‘yes’ to the Giro in January,” reported La Gazzetta dello Sport newspaper earlier this week. After the 2018 route presentation Wednesday in Milan, it repeated it, “Froome and Dumoulin will be there, [Fabio] Aru too.”
On Friday, the Italian daily published a list of top riders. For each, it estimated the likelihood of a 2018 Giro start. The “100%” written next to Dumoulin’s name and photograph was unequivocal. La Gazzetta added, “Not just Dumoulin and Aru, but [Miguel Angel] Lopez, [Louis] Meintjes, Davide Formolo …”
Frenchman Thibaut Pinot should lead FDJ and Alejandro Valverde may race instead of Movistar’s new captain Mikel Landa. Vincenzo Nibali (Bahrain-Merida) is leaning toward the Tour de France.
Most insiders say that Dumoulin is putting the Tour first for 2018 after a steady rise that saw him nearly win the 2015 Vuelta a España, take Giro and Tour stages in 2016, and of course, conquer the 2017 Giro overall.
Not everyone is so sure that the TT world champion will prioritize the Giro, however.
“For me, it would be a surprise if Dumoulin would go to the Giro because I think he’ll race the Tour de France, it’s a logical step in his career to go every year to a bigger tour,” Dutch journalist with De Telegraaf, Raymond Kerckhoffs told VeloNews. “In the Giro, there’d be more pressure on him. If he doesn’t win then everything is worse than last year.
“Also, if you see the comments of everyone in the team in last week, then everything points in the direction of the Tour. Wilco Kelderman explained that he’d prefer to be the leader of the team in the Giro and then helping Tom in the Tour.”
Dumoulin will announce his decision January 4 at Sunweb’s 2018 roster presentation in Berlin.
“I know already but I’m not going to tell you,” Dumoulin said with a smile Wednesday.
“It’s hard to say which race suits me the best. They’re both very challenging and very nice. I like both the Giro and the Tour. They both have a little bit of everything, but they’re not perfect. The Giro is not perfect for me because it’s lacking time trial kilometers, it’s the same for the Tour.
The Giro includes two time trial stages, one over 9.7 kilometers in Jerusalem on day one and in the third week, a 34.5-kilometer time trial. The Tour will feature a 35-kilometer team time trial and a 31-kilometer individual one before the finish.
Dumoulin won the Giro’s long 39.8-kilometer time trial in Montefalco and took 1:24 on his nearest rival Nairo Quintana (Movistar) in the final Milan time trial. Combined with his defense in the mountains, it was enough to win the Giro overall.