Team Sunweb rider Tom Dumoulin battled through some key mountain stages in the second week of the Giro d’Italia, showing strong climbing form to maintain his second place standing in the general classification as the three-week grand tour heads into its final week.
Dumoulin, the defending champion of the Giro d’Italia, got off to a winning start at the 101st edition of the race when he blitzed the Stage 1 time trial of the Giro’s special opening day in Jerusalem. Wearing the Giant Rivet TT helmet and riding his Trinity Advanced Pro TT bike, he powered to the win to take the leader’s pink jersey.
Dumoulin and Team Sunweb relinquished the leader’s jersey on Stage 2, but the Dutchman has remained within striking distance over the past two weeks. The second week featured a handful of brutal stages, concluding with two big days in the mountains: Stage 14, which finished with a climb up the iconic Mount Zoncolan, and Stage 15, a 176km stage in the Dolomites with four categorized climbs.
On Saturday’s Stage 14, Dumoulin had strong support from the team, hitting the base of Mount Zoncolan with teammates Sam Oomen and Laurens ten Dam. The attacks were fast and furious in the final ascent, and Dumoulin did well to ride his own pace. While four-time Tour de France winner Chris Froome won the stage, and GC leader Simon Yates finished second, Dumoulin climbed to an impressive 5th place stage finish on his TCR Advanced SL.
“I’m not the strongest uphill but I was close and that’s how it is,” said Dumouolin, who wore the Rev helmet for the tough day in the mountains. “I think the gap to Yates is still OK, but there are a lot of mountain stages to come. I’m satisfied, I did well, paced myself and got everything out of it so I can’t be unhappy. It was brutal, the hardest I’ve ever done. It was harder than I expected but the fans were great.”
There was no rest for Dumoulin and his teammates, with another big mountain stage on Sunday. The Dutchman again showed perseverance as he fought hard to chase the attacks, limiting losses and staying in contention for the leader’s pink jersey. Yates attacked on the penultimate climb, putting some distance on Dumoulin and the other GC contenders, but the defending champ chased on his own to finish third on another pivotal stage.
“It was such a deep effort on the final climb,” he said. “I did everything well, but Yates is really strong. When we were chasing it was a tactical game. Everyone was looking to each other, and I think I did pretty well. I managed to return after they jumped away from me and I could even almost win the sprint. The team did such a good job again, how Sam reduced the group was really top class.”
Monday was the third and final rest day, and Tuesday marks another pivotal stage—a 34km time trial. It’s the only long TT of this year’s Giro, and Dumoulin, the current TT world champion, hopes to gain some time on Yates. He currently sits second overall, 2:11 behind the Brit, with Italian Domenico Pozzovivo in third at 2:28.
“First, we focus on the rest day and then we continue to fight as we did today,” Dumoulin said after Stage 15. “And we’ll see what happens [at the finish] in Rome. I’m going to carry on giving all I can every day. I’m happy and satisfied with where I am not. I’m proving every day that I belong in this select GC group, and I hope that I can keep it going until the end. “