Tom Dumoulin (Sunweb) is heading into the Giro d'Italia on Friday with eye on a general classification placing in a Grand Tour for only the second time in his career, and says he'll need "all possible luck" to get on the podium.
The Dutchman came close to victory in the Vuelta a España in 2015 before slipping to sixth on the penultimate stage and conceding his lead to Fabio Aru (Astana), and faces a tough challenge on the mountainous route of the 100th Giro with former winners Nairo Quintana (Movistar) and Vincenzo Nibali (Bahrain-Merida) vying for victory.
Two long time trials on stage 10 and the final day to Milan will be key to keeping Dumoulin in contention. However the 26-year-old says with a tough parcours over the three weeks which sees the peloton ascend some of the race's most historic climbs like Mount Etna, Stelvio, Monte Grappa and the Mortirolo, he can't afford to operate at anything less than 100 per cent capacity if he's to stick with big GC stars.
“I’m here to do really well on GC," Dumoulin said in the pre-race press conference.
"Winning the Giro is normally out of reach. To do so, I’d need to be in my best shape ever and also have all possible luck.
Nairo Quintana is the favourite. In the past years and last month, he’s been showing that even at 90 per cent of his capacities, he’s playing for the win.
"Riders like Steven Kruijswijk and myself, at 95 per cent we can’t compete for the win. Vincenzo Nibali is always dangerous. Last year I didn’t expect him to win the Giro and he did."
Dumoulin, who already has two Giro stages on his palmarès and spent six days in the maglia rosa last year, has had a relatively quiet start to the season which has seen his best results in the Abu Dhabi Tour (third overall) and at the Tirreno-Adriatico where he finished sixth in GC.
Sunweb has constructed a much stronger team for Dumoulin than he had at the Vuelta in 2015, with Dutch climbers Laurens Ten Dam and Wilco Kelderman new additions that should be able to stick out for longer on the big climbs to support their compatriot.
“My preparation went well. We have a strong team, we’re mentally and physically fresh for three weeks," Dumoulin added.
"I only rode for GC once, at the Vuelta a España two years ago. Uphill I was just limiting the losses.
"Since them, I’m calmer and I’ve made some improvements uphill. The first half of the Giro is not super difficult. I don’t think the differences on GC will be big after Etna and the Blockhaus.
"The stage that includes Stelvio and Mortirolo is the hardest but any of the stages in the last week can’t be underestimated.”
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