Dumoulin surprised at the size of time gaps but not intending to add to his lead in upcoming stages
“It’s nice to be in the maglia rosa, but it will be hard to keep it for three weeks,” Dumoulin said. “We aren’t planning on defending it every day so we will see what we do with that in the coming days.”
Dumoulin won the decisive time trial in 2017 and rode well in the Giro’s mountains. On the final day in Milan, he overtook pink jersey wearer Nairo Quintana (Movistar) to win the race overall. He was the first Dutchman to do so in the race’s 100 editions.
Dumoulin began the 101st edition with a bang, covering the 9.7-kilometre course in 12-02 and toppling the Australian Dennis who had been in the hot seat – also putting helpful seconds into his most serious rival, Sky’s Froome.
“It’s a bit of a surprise that the difference is so big, I expected differences, of course, maybe they’d be bigger in a flat or easier time trial stage,” Dumoulin said.
“This one was really challenging and it suited me very well. I’m technically really good on the TT bike. [The efforts were very] full gas and then recover, full gas and recover. That’s exactly made for me.”
With the ride, Dumoulin is firmly in the pink jersey lead. The first monotonous stage is next week, the summit finish to Mount Etna. Perhaps there, a rival like Simon Yates (Mitchelton-Scott), only 20 seconds down, could upset Dumoulin and take the lead – and with it the race responsibility.
Dumoulin’s team was criticised and appeared underpowered at times in 2017. In 2018, the team comes to the Giro with slightly more firepower to help Dumoulin defend his place and win the Giro when the race ends on May 27 in Rome.
“It’s a balanced team but not [the] best team. This year, I wouldn’t say we have [a] better or worse team, we have a good team again. [Our] climbing strength [is] a bit better than last year,” Dumoulin said.
“We will see how it evolves and the shape of everyone. We cannot compete with Orica or Sky, like last year, [but then] it all worked out. We have a really strong team. I am really confident we can pull it off again.”