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POTENZA, Italy (VN) – Emotions and team tactics change fast at the Giro d’Italia.
Just 72 hours after grim scenes on the Etna summit, yellow and black jerseys of Jumbo-Visma riders and staffers erupted around a collapsed Koen Bouwman after the Dutchman dashed from Tom Dumoulin‘s leadout to win an attack-laden mountain stage to Potenza on Friday.
“I dont have any words to describe how happy I am, winning a stage a grand tour is unbelievable,” an elated Bouwman told reporters in his winner’s press conference.
Dumoulin had been at the center of the finishline celebrations as he relished a whirlwind turnaround from his own GC dejection to team-wide elation.
After bombing out of classification range on Tuesday’s Etna summit, Dumoulin almost unexpectedly joined the day’s break to link up with long-time training buddy Bouwman.
The big diesel Dutchman hung tough through a battery of attacks from fellow escapees Bauke Mollema and Davide Formolo before leading Bouwman out for the first grand tour victory of a career spent flying under the radar.
“It really wasn’t the plan, I just found myself in there suddenly,” Dumoulin said of his move into the attack group.
“I was protecting Koen’s break, he was in there with four riders and they started jumping a little bit and I jumped with them. Suddenly we had a gap and I found myself in the break. I was eventually very happy I went in.”
Dumoulin was characteristically downbeat after he exploded on Etna and hemorrhaged more than six minutes in the GC battle Tuesday.
And with Tobias Foss also out of the frame on what was a damaging day on the Sicilian summit, Jumbo-Visma’s Giro looked as bleak as Etna’s charred slopes.
The smile on Dumoulin’s face for compatriot and sidekick Bouwman on Friday was as wide as the volcano-sized grimace he flashed after losing his GC ambitions 72 hours earlier.
“I’m so happy for Koen. He’s one of the riders who deserve it the most in the whole bunch,” Dumoulin said. “I knew he was going to be one of the fastest, but to get him to the line to be able to sprint for the win, that was the first objective and he succeded so I’m very happy.”
Colombia camps central to tactical turnaround
Jumbo-Visma said it would keep pushing its annihilated GC ambitions after its collapse on Etna.
But just like how Dumoulin turned his frown upside down in his return to the pointy end of the Giro on Friday, things change fast in pro cycling.
“I said the day after Etna that we had to try to refocus a bit, and we had two days where we were able to do that in the last sprint days. But for it to turn out like this, it’s incredible,” said sport director Addy Engels.
After coming into the Giro as a B-list contender for pink, Dumoulin now looks set to race a freewheeling, attack-laden Giro far from the conservative atmosphere of the GC bubble he sometimes finds so oppressive.
“For us, it’s really important to see Tom so happy,” Bouwman said. “It was a big disappointment for us on the stage at Etna, and for Tom. There are still 14 stages to go, but it already seems like he’s already switched in his to a new tactic. I’m sure we will see more Tom Dumoulin in the break and in the last kilometer we will see him there.”
And what are Dumoulin’s hopes for the next two weeks?
“Pretty much this, ha,” he joked.
It seems 72 hours is a long time at the Giro d’Italia.