Fresh off a second place finish at the Giro d’Italia, Tom Dumoulin and his Team Sunweb counterparts will be heading to the Tour de France with the aim of going through the learning processes the race has to offer compared to the Giro d’Italia according to his sports director Luke Roberts.
“The main goal for this year will be targeting the GC with Tom,” Roberts said. “Having come off the Giro, which was our major goal and was more or less successful with a second place, to now target the Tour on the back of that is an unknown.”
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Despite the aim for back-to-back general classification tilts, Roberts and the team aren’t placing unnecessary pressure on the time trial world champion.
“History says it’s not so easy to do, but we have an extra week this year, whether that will make a big difference is to be seen so we will go there with the target of a GC result with Tom but not necessarily the expectation of a great result.” Roberts said.
Having never targeted the general classification at the French Grand Tour, Roberts believes the experience will at least stand Dumoulin and the team in good stead for future assaults on the race.
“[We] go there more as a learning process, to see what we can get out of it for the future and hopefully get if not a good result but at least learn something out of it for the future. Looking at targeting a GC and how the tactics are at the Tour de France in comparison to racing the Giro.”
Despite taking both green and polka dot jerseys last year through Michael Matthews and Warren Barguil respectively, Roberts doesn’t expect a repeat performance this time around – an assessment that is partly based on the decision to reduce teams to eight riders this year.
“With teams reduced to eight riders it makes a double target at the tour even more difficult. Therefore we’ve decided to put our energies towards the GC process and leave the green jersey aside this year.”
Matthews could prove to be a valuable asset to Dumoulin in the team time trial but it certainly leaves his personal opportunities diminished, as he will be left to fight for stage victories himself if he is going to add to the eight Grand Tour wins he has to date.
“Michael has picked out stages that are highly suited to him and he will have the freedom to go for the stage result once Tom is safe in finals, but we don’t expect for the way he has prepared for this tour and his goals to go there and win bunch sprints.”