Dumoulin takes a familiar, fruitful road to 2018 Giro

Tom Dumoulin will start his season in Abu Dhabi. Tirreno-Adriatico will also be key to his run at second Giro title.

ABU DHABI, United Arab Emirates (VN) — Tom Dumoulin knows the road to winning the Giro d’Italia. And Sunweb’s world champion will turn onto that same winding path this 2018 season as he tries to defend his Giro d’Italia title.

Dumoulin will begin his season Wednesday in the Abu Dhabi Tour. The Dutchman leads Team Sunweb, along with Wilco Kelderman, over the next five days. It will be his first step toward the Giro’s start in Jerusalem, May 4.

“Other than that I wear the TT world champion jersey, nothing is different from last year, just that everyone starts from zero again like me,” Dumoulin said.

“I just have to work hard again and hopefully get some good results again. I do the same race program again, exactly, also the altitude camps. But you can never replicate or duplicate a season, it’s not possible. We had some good experiences last year, so why change a lot?”

Dumoulin became the first Dutchman to win the Giro in its 100 years when he toppled Nairo Quintana (Movistar) last year in Milan. This year, he is going back to face a different route. The race will start in Israel with a 9.7km time trial and end with climbs such as the Monte Zoncolan. Plus, he’ll be up against different rivals, such as Italian Fabio Aru (UAE Team Emirates) and four-time Tour champion Chris Froome (Sky).

Dumoulin’s race program looks similar to 2017. After Abu Dhabi, he will start Tirreno-Adriatico stage race mid-March. Froome is also slated for the seven-day event in Italy. Last year, Dumoulin was third overall in Abu Dhabi and sixth at Tirreno.

“It’d be a risk to compare too much to 2017,” continued Dumoulin. “I don’t want to compare training data with last year or something. That’s why I have to do this program, but not try to do everything the same, the same days training, and so on …”

He considered attempting the Giro and Tour de France double but decided to put his weight behind a second Giro title. He should race the Tour in July, but it is unclear if will ride for an overall result.

Many critics argue that he would be better-suited for the Tour’s route and would be wasting his time trying to win another Giro title when the Tour is more prestigious.

“Why? The main reason is that I think my chances of winning the Giro are higher than in the Tour, for the parcours and maybe also because of the competitors,” Dumoulin said.

“Also because I love Italy. I like the race better than the Tour just for the feelings. There is more passion in Italy for cycling, also I like the country for holidays. I like to be there, and if I like to be there, I race better.”

Dumoulin will try to win the Abu Dhabi Tour with his teammate Kelderman also a protected rider for Sunweb. The five-day race includes a stage 4 time trial, where he will debut his new world champion jersey he won last year, and a summit finish on the final day Sunday.

“I like to start the season late, it’s always a long season anyway, and I like to be good until the worlds TT or until after,” Dumoulin explained. “Also I like the heat and course, the TT and the uphill finish is good for me.”

Dumoulin also chimed on on the ongoing controversy surrounding Chris Froome’s Salbutamol case: “It would be very bad if he starts the Giro without still knowing something and they have to say after the Giro then that he’s suspended. … That would be the worst solution ever. I don’t think a lot of riders have a different opinion, I think they agree that it’s not good for cycling that this case is lingering on and there’s not a solution.”

“I hope justice prevails, and whatever that may be,” he said. “Everyone wants clarity. I think Froome wants the same. Everyone wants that. The public is asking for that.”