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A rough few seasons, however, sees the Jumbo-Visma captain return to the Giro unsure of his condition and uncertain of how far he can go in this Giro.
“I am unsure how I will go, and my spring hasn’t been the best,” Dumoulin said. “Even when I am not 100 percent I can do GC, but that is my goal and that is what I am here for.”
Dumoulin won the 2017 Giro in dramatic fashion, and returned in 2018 to lose in a dramatic duel with Chris Froome. He doubled up with second at the 2018 Tour de France.
Since then, Dumoulin struggled with injury and pressure. He abandoned the 2019 Giro with a bum knee, but bounced back to finish seventh as a support rider at the 2020 Tour with Jumbo-Visma.
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Dumoulin flamed out and took an unprecedented mid-career race stop in early 2021, only to return in time to mine silver at the Olympic Games time trial.
He seems to be struggling so far in 2021, but he’s not discounting anything for this Giro in what will be his first grand tour since the 2020 Tour.
“I’m still confident it is still possible, and I still think that. It’s my goal to go for GC, if I am still able to, because it’s been two years,” he said, responding to a question that it might seem “crazy” if he’s able to win after such a long time off.
“Crazy? I’ve had a few podiums in grand tours. I don’t think it’s crazy to repeat that. Definitely with my preparation of the last couple of months it’s a big question mark. I did it before without many races and without having a good feeling. I’ve been able to pull some things off when it really matters, and I hope it happens again.”
Also read: Dumoulin headlines Jumbo-Visma at the Giro
Dumoulin will also have Sam Oomen and Tobias Foss as co-leaders, so Jumbo-Visma isn’t piling all the pressure on the Dutch rider.
The Dutch team brings a deep squad to the Giro, but its heavy hitters such as Primož Roglič, Wout van Aert, and Sepp Kuss are preparing for the Tour de France and a run at the yellow jersey.
Things will have to go perfect for Dumoulin and Co. for them to be able to reach the final podium in Verona.
“I am a bit unsure of my GC abilities at the moment. The last couple of weeks I’ve been feeling good. I’ve prepared myself as good as possible. I can tell you in three weeks,” he said.
“The training camp went very good. The last couple of weeks I’ve been improving every day, and I’ve been feeling pretty good and the way I wanted and hoped I would feel. I feel my preparation is that the best that it could be.”
Dumoulin said the goal is to win “at least one” stage, and perhaps even more in the GC.
Dumoulin also confirmed he’s not planning on racing either the Tour or Vuelta a España later this season, so it’s all in for the Giro.
With the pink jersey in play in Friday’s and Saturday’s stages, Dumoulin hopes to be in contention this weekend for the maglia rosa.
“A stage win, but my biggest chances are in the time trials,” he said. “The one here in Budapest looks really nice on paper, and I hope to be able to go home with at least a stage win.
“The pink? That’s a possibility. We did the recon of the first stage this morning. It’s a climb, but not too difficult. I hope to finish with the first riders, and I hope to be up there, and it’s all to play for the next day. That would be very nice, but first tomorrow.”
With Mount Etna and Blockhaus waiting at the end of the first full week, Dumoulin said there won’t be many question marks going into the second rest day.
“The Giro is always hard, so we will all know where we stand pretty fast,” he said.