Tom Dumoulin (Sunweb) has ridden a fairly light early-season schedule this year, but that is just the way the Dutchman planned it as he targets the Giro d'Italia and the Tour de France.
The 2017 Giro winner will start his first big target of the season on Saturday (May 11) in Bologna.
He is one of a handful of favourites in the Italian Grand Tour along with Vincenzo Nibali (Bahrain-Merida), Primož Roglič (Jumbo-Visma) and Simon Yates (Mitchelton-Scott).
"I haven't raced much. It's also due to the combination that I am racing the Tour de France and it would be way too much to do so many races ahead of the Giro d'Italia," Dumoulin said.
"But I don't need a lot of races to be in the shape I like because I think it's better to be mentally fresh ahead of a Grand Tour like this."
Dumoulin counts 16 days of racing in 2019 so far - the UAE Tour, Tirreno-Adriatico, Milan -San Remo and Liège-Bastogne-Liège.
After placing 50th in Liège, there was some confusion about where Dumoulin saw his condition.
"They asked me about Liège compared to last year and I said, it was worse, and that was my answer but then suddenly a few other media said that my shape was bad," Dumoulin explained.
"But I never said that, but I don't think my shape is bad. I think it's good. If it's good enough to win the Giro I don't know, but I will tell you in three weeks."
Dumoulin could not match hot pre-Giro favourite Primož Roglič in the UAE Tour and Tirreno-Adriatico. In UAE on the summit finish stage to Jebel Jais, he attacked in the last metres for the stage win but settled for second when Roglič zipped by.
"Yes of course and I always want to win races but it didn't happen this spring.
"I would liked to have won," he said.
"[Roglič] is definitely coming into this race on a high and I hope to get on that high pretty quickly here."
Dumoulin won the race in 2017 with a combination of time trial skill, which he later used to claim the 2017 world TT title, and climbing ability against Nairo Quintana (Movistar) and Nibali in the mountains. This year, the route could not look better for Dumoulin with its three time trials, starting with the eight-kilometre opening stage on Saturday.
"I have changed a bit and I am not so good at the explosive flat time trials any more and luckily there isn't one of them that is flat and short, so that is good for me," he said.
"It is very well balanced. It's is always dangerous to say but it's somewhat of an easy start to a race this year but it gets brutal towards the last week. So it is very well balanced.
"And also the time trials are not super long and all very hilly and difficult so my competitors will also like that they are hilly, but I like them too. It's very well-balanced."
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