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Dumoulin seeks grand tour support as Sunweb riders defect

Several riders are leaving Sunweb for other teams, leaving a void around grand tour contender Tom Dumoulin.

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FLORENCE, Italy (VN) — Tom Dumoulin, second in both the Giro d’Italia and Tour de France this year, is seeing his grand tour support diminish.

Over the last week, German Simon Geschke and Dutchman Laurens Ten Dam — riders who helped Dumoulin in the grand tours — announced they would join the new CCC team in 2019. Team Sunweb, however, has yet to add significant armor to the talented Dutchman’s defense heading toward the new season.

“Simon and Laurens have been very important riders to us,” a team representative told VeloNews.

“Simon turned pro in our team and has spent 10 years of his career with us. He recognized the opportunity of trying a different environment and we respect that and wish them all the best.”

Geschke, a Tour stage winner in 2015, helped Dumoulin this year place second overall in France. Ten Dam, now 37, rode with Dumoulin in both the Giro and Tour this season.

Dumoulin placed second to Chris Froome (Sky) in the Giro one year after becoming the first Dutchman to win the overall. In the Tour, he was runner-up to Froome’s Sky teammate Geraint Thomas. Froome took third.

Losing the Geschke/Ten Dam duo would be the same as Froome losing Luke Rowe and Wout Poels. Team Sky, however, has a much deeper pool of riders to choose from when selecting its grand tour teams.

Team Sunweb still has riders like American Chad Haga, Søren Kragh Andersen, and Sam Oomen. However, the German WorldTour team will need to find talented helpers to replace the men it lost and further build the group around Dumoulin if he hopes to win the Tour in the coming years.

Mike Teunissen, Phil Bauhaus, and Lennard Hofstede are also leaving the team. So far, the new riders named have been limited to young talents: Max Kanter, Joris Nieuwenhuis, and Cees Bol.

Experienced Irishman Nicolas Roche, a BMC Racing rider who was formerly with Saxo Bank and Sky, is rumored to be joining Sunweb. The team will not comment on names, but the roster will begin to be finalized soon.

“We will continue the same pathway that we have taken over the previous years to further strengthen the team — making hard choices is part of that,” Sunweb said. “As usual, we will announce new riders as soon as things are final.”

Dumoulin is the current world time trial champion, but in recent years he has transitioned from TT specialist to a grand tour rider. In 2015, he nearly won the Vuelta a España, only crumbling on the final mountain day. In 2016, he won stages in both the Giro and Tour. He won the Giro las year and recorded a pair of podium finishes this season.

“Of course, I would have liked to see Geschke and Ten Dam stay with the team, but if it is not, it is not like that,” Dumoulin told NOS.

“I can get along very well with both of them, I would have loved to keep them. But I don’t manage the team, I am just paid. I am a rider and that is my role.”

Dumoulin has yet to announce his 2019 plans, but he could aim for the Tour again.

“We need a very good team in the Tour if we want to try to go for the win,” he added. “Suppose we get yellow once, then you need a good team around you to defend that jersey.”

Dumoulin will also be getting used to a new bike in 2019. For the new season, Sunweb is due to change its supplier from Giant to Cervelo.