Dumoulin not afraid of Froome, slightly nervous about Israel
May 01 2018 07:38 pm CET

Dumoulin not afraid of Froome, slightly nervous about Israel
Dumoulin not afraid of Froome, slightly nervous about Israel
Photo of Tom Dumoulin (c) Team Sunweb

Friday the 101st Giro d’Italia starts in Jerusalem, despite the events that are transpiring in the region at the moment and the tensions between Israel and Iran. For last year’s winner Tom Dumoulin this is no reason not to go and defend his title.

Today the Dutchman will fly to Jerusalem, and before leaving he spoke to Dutch press agency ANP. "I’m really looking forward to it, even though I have to say it is a little nervous from the safety point of view. But it is not tense enough to stay away from the Giro, I’m no more nervous than when entering the Champs-Elysées in the Tour." The Sunweb rider does not want to share his opinion on the start in Israel. "Sport always has to be separated from political discussions. At the moment this is not the case because we start in Israel, but if it really is unacceptable there would have been a lot more international pressure. Apparently this did not happen."

The defending champion takes a squad of strong climbers to Italy with Laurens ten Dam, Louis Vervaeke and Sam Oomen as his main support in the mountains, as well as youngsters Chris Hamilton and Lennard Hofstede. On the flat support is expected from Chad Haga and road captain Roy Curvers. The main absence in the team is that of Wilco Kelderman, the number 4 of the Vuelta last year. He seemed to become the most important lieutenant for Dumoulin, but an injury has kept him sidelined ever since the 5th stage of the Tirreno-Adriatico.

Just like last year the final preparation for Dumoulin was Liège-Bastogne-Liège. He did slightly better this year with a 15th place, as opposed to a 22nd place last year, and he said the feeling was slightly better too. "Liège was a good final stimulus. I don’t need a measurement to know how I’m doing. The last ten years I tested myself sufficiently on the bike. I know what I have to do, despite the challenges that await me the next three weeks."

His results in the early season though have not yet been nearly as good as last year, partly because of bad luck and small injuries, but mostly because of a wrong mind-set. "I was not relaxed enough. I wanted to show too badly how hard I worked in the winter. When I was announced at a race as the reigning Giro champion, I believe I have to confirm that status."

The first real test for Dumoulin is going to be the prologue in Jerusalem, while the first test in the mountains finishes on Mount Etna. This will be the first time the Dutchman will battle Chris Froome for the GC. The Sky rider is probably going to be the main challenger for Dumoulin, despite being caught up in the salbutamol case that has been dragging on for months now. "I’m not afraid to ride against him, but the situation around Froome is difficult and undesirable."

About Mount Etna, where the GC favourites stayed together last year because of the strong headwinds, he says the following: "If it is going to be different this time, it is immediately going to be a difficult mountain finish where differences are going to be made. Even though this does not have to say anything about the rest of the Giro."

By Siebe Kok



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