The first grand tour of the season gets off to a special start this week as the opening three stages of the Giro d’Italia take place in Israel. The start of the 101stGiro is also special for Team Sunweb, with its team leader Tom Dumoulin returning to the race as the defending champion.
Dumuolin starts the three-week grand tour as one of the favorites for the general classification. The 27-year-old Dutchman won last year’s 100thGiro in dramatic fashion, coming from behind in the final time trial to take the overall victory on the last day in Milan. Dumoulin will again be gunning for the general classification this year, and he has a strong supporting cast to help him along the way.
Team Sunweb’s 2018 Giro d’Italia roster is a solid mix of talented young riders and experienced grand tour riders. Veterans Laurens ten Dam (Ned),Roy Curvers (Ned)and Chad Haga (USA) have a combined 28 grand tour starts between them, while up-and-comers Chris Hamilton (Aus), Lennard Hofstede (Ned), Sam Oomen (Ned)and Louis Vervaeke (Bel)will also play key roles for the team.
“We go into the 101st Giro with similar targets to last year, looking for a GC result with Tom,” said Team Sunweb coach Marc Reef.“Lining up as defending champions will bring special dynamics into both the team and the race, and we will be prepared for that. Fighting for a GC result is entirely different in comparison to a stage success focus. Everybody on the team needs to be completely focused for three weeks in a row, which is very demanding for all. We learned a lot from last year and we will bring this experience into the mix for this edition.”
As for Dumoulin, he looks forward to the challenge. “I feel more confident going into this Giro because I know what is coming to me,” he said. “Last year everything was new but this year I already know more and have more experience. Taking in the things that happened last year and now knowing how to handle them in a better way makes me feel more confident.”
The first big test of the three-week race is one that Dumoulin is more than comfortable with. Stage 1 is a 9.7k time trial in Jerusalem, and the current time trial world champion is ready to go on his Trinity Advanced Pro TT bike. He will also be wearing the Rivet TT aero helmet, the same setup that helped him capture the Giro title on last year’s final stage time trial in Milan. Giant has also been working with the team to produce some next-generation components, including wheels and components. Dumoulin and his teammates will be riding with some of these components, which are currently labeled #overachieve during this development phase.
Following the Stage 1 time trial on May 4, Dumoulin and his teammates will switch to their TCR Advanced SL road bikes as they tackle two road stages in Israel followed by a travel day to Italy where they will embark on the rest of the three-week race that finishes May 27 in Rome.
“We have a strong team here, but it will be difficult,” Dumoulin said. “Last year worked out and we will try to pull it off again.”
Here’s the full roster for Team Sunweb’s 2018 Giro d’Italia squad:
Roy Curvers (Ned)
Laurens ten Dam (Ned)
Tom Dumoulin (Ned)
Chad Haga (USA)
Chris Hamilton (AUS)
Lennard Hofstede (Ned)
Sam Oomen (Ned)
Louis Vervaeke (Bel)