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by Shane Stokes
June 30, 2017
Photography by Cor Vos
He’s not riding this year’s Tour de France but Tom Dumoulin’s victory in the Giro d’Italia has, inevitably, raised questions about whether he can now go on to win cycling’s biggest event.
The Dutchman used his time trialling prowess to good effect in the Italian race, but also climbed strongly to take the final Maglia Rosa. He beat former Giro winner and current Vuelta a España champion Nairo Quintana (Movistar) by 31 seconds and 2014 Tour de France victor Vincenzo Nibali (Astana) by 40.
“It is logical that he will keep going for GC in other Grand Tours,” Team Sunweb CEO Iwan Spenkenbrink told CyclingTips. “For next year, we will just look to what will the Tour de France offer, what will the Giro d’Italia offer.
“They are both fantastic races. They are both the biggest races out there, but for a GC you can only do one, normally. So we have to look at what both races offer and then, either before the winter or in the winter, make a good plan and decide what things will look like.”
Dumoulin went into season saying he was targeting GC for the first time, although he had previously performed strongly in the 2015 Vuelta a España. Others such as Quintana were more highly tipped for the Giro, but the Dutchman showed his physical progression and mental strength in winning the event.
Now, with one three-week race in the bag, chasing more will be the priority. Given that some questioned the strength of Dumoulin’s team in the Giro, does Spekenbrink believe the team will need to hit the market for more support riders?
“The team is always looking as to how it can improve itself,” he said. “And not only in GC, but also in time trials, Classics and sprints. So we are always looking for it. I actually believe we do have a good team. In the Giro, there was some bad luck. I mean missing Wilco [Kelderman] was a big blow.
“And of course not all the climbers were in the Giro. We have some young upcoming talents coming up; Sam Oomen, Lennard Kamna, Chris Hamilton. So there is already quite some potential in the team. And of course we will look to how we can strengthen that, obviously. But you should not forget there is some upcoming potential in the team.”
Team Sunweb CEO Iwan Spekenbrink has worked closely with Tom Dumoulin for years.
Given what is has been a very long wait for a Grand Tour victory by a Dutchman, it is inevitable that he received plenty of attention from the media and others.
Spekenbrink accepts this, but is also aware that many riders have suffered from pressure after a big result.
“Winning Grand Tours is one of the biggest things in cycling,’ he said. “If you have one Grand Tour, then it is logical that he will keep focussing on that. There will be more Grand Tours where he will go for the GC, obviously. So that is basically the next step.
“But we have to be careful. Tom lives in the south of the Netherlands. For 37 years there was not a Grand Tour victory. So they really have celebrated it … it was a big celebration in the Netherlands. It was overwhelming, actually. At times pink dominated the streets.
“Immediately after that, they started speaking about which other Grand Tours Tom will win. But when you have not won a Grand Tour for 37 years, then it is important that you first celebrate it, that you finally won one. It is an important step. You never know if you are going to win another Grand Tour. So, yes, with such results come expectation.”
Spekenbrink emphasises the need to keep things realistic. To not presume that a second big win is inevitable. And, even more so, that applies to any presumption of Tour de France success.
“If you won one Grand Tour, it is not just an ABC that you win other Grand Tours. It is important that when Tom finishes third or fourth in a Grand Tour, when he rode to his best abilities and if the team rode to its best abilities, then it can still be seen as good. We have to manage it so that the expectations are not too high.”