The perception that the Giant-Alpecin is increasingly looking towards overall stage race contention has been reinforced by the news that the team has inked long-term extensions with its two GC rider, Tom Dumoulin and Warren Barguil.
Both riders have signed contracts that will keep them in the team until the end of 2018.
Dumoulin joined the team in 2012 and had a breakthrough season this year. He won two stages and wore the leader’s jersey in the Vuelta a España, proving he is now a Grand Tour contender. He finally buckled under the pressure on the final mountain stage and slipped to an eventual finishing position of sixth overall but, being just 24 years of age, there is every reason to believe that he will gain strength as the years pass.
In addition to the Vuelta performance, he also notched up two stage wins and second overall in this year’s Tour de Suisse, and won the final time trial in the Vuelta al Pais Vasco.
Dumoulin’s progress made it certain that other teams would consider signing him. However he said that remaining a Giant-Alpecin rider was the best option for him.
“I feel really good in the team, and I trust that I can develop further in this environment,” he stated on Wednesday. “I will get all the support I need to make the next steps in my career.
“I am pleased with how we have worked together so far. We have made great progress every year, and this is one of the reasons to stay with the team. Another important factor is that my growth is paralleling the growth of the team, and it is great to be part of a challenging environment.”
The team had been largely based around Marcel Kittel in the Tour de France, with the German sprinter netting a total of eight stages wins between 2013 and 2014. However he had a poor season this year and wasn’t selected for the Tour. This was a contributory factor to his decision to leave the team early, as was the realisation that Giant-Alpecin’s primary focus would no longer be the sprints alone.
Team CEO Iwan Spekenbrink knows that with Dumoulin, and Barguil, he has two strong GC riders for the future.
“We are delighted to continue working with Tom and Warren to help them develop further as riders and achieve their maximum potential,” he stated. “This year we have seen Tom make a great step forward in his development both as a rider and as a person, which has led to some impressive results already.
“The way he dealt with his crash at the Tour de France and how he acts as a leader within the team show that he is capable of playing a leadership role.”
As for Barguil, he became a stagiaire with the team in 2012. He showed his class that season by winning the Tour de l’Avenir and confirmed it the following year by taking two stages in the Vuelta a España, his first Grand Tour.
Since then he has taken eighth in the 2014 Vuelta and 14th in the 2015 Tour de France, his debut in the race. He’s still just 23 years of age and has plenty of room for progression.
“I am happy to continue with the team and to improve further as a GC rider,” he stated. “When I joined the team in 2012 I signed a contract for a long period of three years, and for me it was clear that I wanted to continue. I am confident that the team can help me take the next steps, and that is why I want to stay for three more years.
“The atmosphere in the team is great and my teammates are very helpful, and that is important to me. When I am racing I feel good with everyone around me, and I just don’t want to leave for a different team. Now that the team is growing, it is important to have the right GC support, not only during races but also before and after.”
Spekenbrink said that in 2013 the team drew up a long term performance plan to help him develop into a strong general classification rider.
“As a result, we sent him to this year’s Tour de France to learn and to discover his capabilities in a race like the Tour, which will be an important step in his development,” he stated.
“For us, it was an obvious choice to continue executing the performance plan with Warren and our performance staff. We believe that we can continue to grow together and produce some strong performances.”