Tom Dumoulin could be set to challenge Chris Froome head-on after one of his Team Sunweb sports directors said that he is due to go to the Tour de France in July after attempting to defend his Giro d’Italia title in May.
Speaking to Dutch cycling podcast De Rode Lantaarn, sports director Aike Visbeek, who was behind the wheel of the team car during Dumoulin’s victory at the 2017 Giro d’Italia, said that the world time trial champion would be aiming for a historic double in 2018.
“At the moment we have a clear plan,” Visbeek said. “Tom will go for the general classification at the Giro and he will also go for the Tour, while Wilco [Kelderman] will go to the Tour and the Vuelta.”
Dumoulin confirmed in December that he would return to Italy to defend his Giro d’Italia title, which he won ahead of Nairo Quintana and Vincenzo Nibali at the end of a thrilling three weeks of racing last May.
However the Dutchman also said in January that he was weighing up the possibility of riding both the Giro and the Tour, and plan which now seems to have been confirmed by his team, and which will bring him into direct competition with Chris Froome who is also targetting the double in 2018.
Watch: Tour de France 2018 route guide
Dumoulin last rode the Giro and Tour in the same year in 2016, when he failed to finish either race but did pick up two stage wins in the Tour and one in the Giro, wearing the leader’s pink jersey after the opening time trial.
Meanwhile Froome’s participation in the Giro and Tour depends on the outcome of an anti-doping investigation into his adverse analytical finding (AAF) at the 2017 Vuelta a España.
Froome maintains his innocence in the case and has vowed to clear his name with Team Sky’s assistance. Despite the ongoing investigation, the Brit is free to race, but could see any results achieved since his AAF struck out as part of a possible retrospective ban.
If either rider is able to win both races and complete the Giro/Tour double, they would become the first ride since Marco Pantani in 1998 to complete the feat.