The Dutchmen won the Giro d’Italia in 2017 and placed second behind Chris Froome (Sky) in 2018. In the Tour de France, he placed second again behind Geraint Thomas (Sky).
This year, he is taking aim at the Giro d’Italia. Tirreno-Adriatico will cover similar roads, but that was not a factor for Dumoulin.
“Not very important. No,” he said of racing Tirreno-Adriatico ahead of the Giro. “I like the Italian flavour of racing, but I don’t need it in order to perform good at the Giro.
“I know the Italian regions and don’t think this Tirreno is necessary for the Giro but it’s a nice race here I’d love to do well.”
Dumoulin has said that his love for Italy is part of the reason he is returning to fight for the pink leader’s jersey. This year’s Giro d’Italia also features three individual time trials.
For the first time in years, the seven-day Tirreno-Adriatico does not include a summit finish for the climbers. Instead, it counts five mixed and punchy stages and good news for Dumoulin and Team Sunweb, a team time trial on Wednesday to start the race and an individual time trial to end it.
“I’d have liked a long climb but this is the parcours,” Dumoulin continued.
“I also like racing on a course like this. It’s always nice to get a early season long climb in the legs, that would’ve been good but the Le Marche region is very difficult and I love to race there.”
The team time trial runs 21.5km along the Tuscan coast in Lido di Camaiore. Dumoulin will face strong rivals like Primož Roglič (Jumbo-Visma), winner of the UAE Tour last earlier this month.
“It’s going to be a very close I think. The team time trial is going to play a big role. I hope we do very well tomorrow so that we rally have a shot for the GC,” Dumoulin continued.
“The stage in the Le Marche region is definitely very difficult but maybe not difficult enough to really go one-on-one like on a big mountain finish. So the TT might be very important.”
The final time trial runs over 10 kilometres in San Benedetto del Tronto. Last year, Michał Kwiatkowski (Sky) won the race overall.
Dumoulin, a bit sick, lost 25 seconds with his team in the opening time trial in 2018 before climbing off his bike and quitting later in the race.
“That would probably be on the limit of being too much. It depends on the shape of the others and on the wind, but if a guy like Roglič takes 25 seconds, I don’t think I can take that back. If he then does everything right and if he’s in the shape he was in the UAE Tour, then I’m not going to take back 25 seconds,” explained Dumoulin.
“It’s a tricky race, you have to do everything right in order to win it. It’s a game of seconds. But that’s for everyone. I’m not anxious but it’ll be very difficult if we lose half a minute in the team time trial.”
Dumoulin threatened Roglič and nearly won the final mountain stage in the UAE Tour. Second place in the Jebel Jais stage was impressive considering earlier in the day he nearly abandoned after he crashed and over-stretched his left leg.
“After a couple of easy days at home, I was fine again,” Dumoulin added. “I’m here and I’m ready.”