Dumoulin won the opening time trial on Friday in the Netherlands and after losing the pink jersey for one day, regained it yesterday in the Giro’s first stage back in Italy. The Giro still has two weeks to come, including a long 40.5-kilometre time trial that suits Dumoulin and the high Alpine passes in the north.
“In my opinion, yes,” Landa told Cycling Weekly when asked if Dumoulin’s here to race for the overall.
“He’s not losing time. Until he pulls out, he’s one of the favourites like all the others. He’s a favourite to watch, we have to keep him reined in.”
The 25-year-old from Maastricht surprised the cycling world last year when he darted in early uphill finishes in the Vuelta a España, winning one ahead of Sky’s Chris Froome. Before, many knew him as a time trial rider thanks to performances like third to Bradley Wiggins in the 2014 world championships.
Dumoulin regained the lead in the final week of the Vuelta thanks to the time trial and survived the mountains until the final day, when he collapsed under the pressure of Fabio Aru and his Astana team-mates.
Dumoulin said that he wants to only aim for the Giro d’Italia’s two time trials, stage one and stage nine in Chianti, and the Olympic Games time trial later in August. However, if he does well in Chianti, he could gain around two minutes over favourites like Landa and Nibali that could later serve him well in the Alps. And as he showed in the recent Tour de Romandie, his climbing has improved.
He tried to explain his plans yesterday when he arrived to Praia a Mare’s market, which the Giro organiser had converted to a pressroom.
“Maybe I’m not telling it right or people are not getting it right,” Dumoulin said in a fresh pink jersey. “The thing I said is that I didn’t go to altitude to train beforehand. I don’t think my level is high enough in the mountains to follow. In the last week, it will be very hard to go for the GC.
“That being said, I’m now in the top of the GC. The coming days are very hard, but I shouldn’t lose too much time there. With the time trial on stage nine, I am still hoping to be in GC for one and a half weeks. We will see in the mountains.”
Watch: Giro d’Italia 2016 contenders guide
His approach seems very similar to the 2015 Vuelta. “Yeah,” he said, “but I had a completely different approach to it. I trained in the mountains at altitude beforehand. I didn’t think it was good enough at that time too, but I definitely had a different approach.
“In the high mountains, [my condition] is not as good, but I have more explosiveness now. I have more power now. But in the last Vuelta, I was better in the high mountains. I was also a little lighter.”
Dumoulin, six-foot-one, was 70kg when he raced the Vuelta last year. His current weight, as well as how far he can go in this Giro, is unknown.