Tom Dumoulin should tap fully into his talents and aim high in 2016. Team Sky Principal David Brailsford explained that there is no reason why the Dutchman could not combine the Tour de France with the Olympic time trial in Rio de Janeiro.
Team Giant-Alpecin’s 24-year-old is closing in on a Vuelta a España victory, with a slim three-second lead over Italian Fabio Aru (Astana). Though he discovered that he can ride at the top of a three-week tour, he explained before that he only wants to target the Rio time trial in 2016.
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Brailsford told Cycling Weekly: “We won the Tour and the time trial in London back to back, and we know how to do that, with the right approach and the right knowledge, and the right development and thought processes… You have to shoot for stars and get to the moon.”
Dumoulin continued to progress in the Vuelta, winning a stage against Chris Froome and moving up the classification. He re-gained the lead after his time trial victory in Burgos. Yesterday, he defended it despite multiple attacks.
He kept saying, however, that he would not sacrifice the Rio Games for grand tours in 2016. Brailsford explained that he should not waste time in his development, which is running a path similar to Wiggins’s.
“Everyone can see that he’s a very good time triallist. He’s been good for a long time, but when you can take that time trail ability and use it to go up hill you become a very potent force in stage racing,” Brailsford added.
“As Chris [Froome] has showed, he climbs very well, but he can also time trial well. In 2013 when he won the Tour, he time trialled very well and finished it off in the mountains. It’s a unique blend that he has. The closest comparison would be Bradley, no doubt.”
Watch: Vuelta a Espana essential guide
Dumoulin aimed for the time trial win and the yellow jersey when the Tour left from Utrecht in July. He fell just short and then crashed in stage three to Huy, Belgium. He took some time off and went to train at altitude, but he and team Giant were not thinking about racing the Vuelta for classifation.
The team simply wanted to aim for the Burgos time trial and form en route to the world championships time trial in Richmond, Virginia. Last year, he won the bronze medal behind Wiggins with the rainbow jersey.
“He’s ridden very intelligently in the Vuelta. Everyday on the climbs, he’s just managing himself carefully and limiting his losses. When you have someone who can time trial to his ability and use that to go uphill as well…
“He’s a special talent, no doubt about it. He’s recovering well, he’s robust obviously, and the question would be [what he can do] going forward in bigger races.”