Team Sunweb and its leader Tom Dumoulin wrapped up a thrilling, successful effort at the Giro d’Italia Sunday, rolling across the finish line in Rome with a podium placing for the 27-year-old Dutchman and a top-10 general classification for his young teammate Sam Oomen.
“I’ve had a great three weeks here with the team,” said Dumoulin, who followed up his 2017 Giro win with a second-place GC finish behind overall winner Chris Froome. “I have to thank all of my teammates. I tried everything that I could and Froome was just the better rider.”
From Israel to Sicily to the high peaks of the Italian Alps, the past three weeks unfolded with spectacular drama. Dumoulin and Team Sunweb were at the heart of the action from start to finish in this 101strunning of Italy’s three-week grand tour. The Dutchman kicked things off when he won the opening stage time trial in Jerusalem, the first of three stages in Israel. He powered his Trinity Advanced Pro TT bike to the win to grab the first leader’s pink jersey of this year’s Giro.
Dumoulin surrendered the leader’s jersey on Stage 2, knowing the GC battle would take place in the weeks to come, on the roads of Italy. The first big test came on Stage 6 in Sicily, and the team proved ready for the challenge. With the support of his teammates, particularly Oomen and American Chad Haga, Dumoulin marked the top challengers on the final climb, remaining in second place overall behind stage winner and new race leader Simon Yates—who would go on to hold the leader’s maglia rosa until the dramatic final-week stages in the Alps.
The next big challenge came on Stage 11, a short and hilly stage that was filled with attacks. On the final climb, Dumoulin was the only rider able to respond to Yates’s attacks. Riding his TCR Advanced SL team bike and wearing the Giant Rev helmet, he finished second, 2 seconds back, to preserve his second-place GC standing.
As the current elite men’s time trial world champion, Dumoulin was looking forward to the one long time trial in this year’s Giro, and he rose to the occasion in the critical 34km race against the clock. Racing with a prototype rear disc wheel being developed by Giant and Team Sunweb, labeled #overachieve, he finished 1:15 ahead of race leader Yates to cut his GC deficit to less than a minute. Dumoulin also rode with #overachieve cockpit components on his TCR Advanced SL for road stages, and several other Team Sunweb riders also rode #overachieve wheels throughout the race.
Stage 18, a 196km race from Abbiategrasso to Prato Nevoso, finished with a 13km climb, and Dumoulin made a big move at the end. He attacked on the final climb, cutting another 28 seconds off Yates’s lead, with two big mountain stages still to come.
“I was waiting until the right moment and at two kilometers to go I tried to see what was possible,” Dumoulin said. “Yates responded to my first attack, then [Chris] Froome attacked and took me and [Domenico] Pozzovivo. Later I found out Yates was dropped.”
That was a precursor for what would come.
The next day’s Stage 19, the queen stage with four brutal mountain passes, saw the GC standings explode. Froome launched an attack with 80km to go, cracking the race leader Yates, who would go on to lose nearly 40 minutes. Dumoulin put in a gutsy chase, fighting for the overall race lead all the way to the finish. He finished the stage in fifth, preserving his second-place GC standing, 40 seconds behind the new race leader Froome.
“Tom showed great heart today,” said Team Sunweb coach Mark Reef. “He pedaled until the end. We did everything we could, but in the end it just wasn’t enough [to take the lead].”
During those tough final mountain stages, Oomen climbed the GC ranks, ending up ninth overall, giving the team two top-10 spots at the finish in Rome.
“I’m proud of myself, proud of the team and proud of Tom,” Oomen said at the finish. “I had a job to be deep in the final with Tom, so that automatically caused me to be up there in the GC. After my work with Tom I rode my own pace to the finish. This last week was amazing and I managed to jump into the top 10, which is really incredible for me, alongside Tom’s place on the podium.”
Dumoulin said he was disappointed he couldn’t repeat his Giro title, but was still happy with the way he and the team performed. “We’ve got a superb three weeks behind us and we tried everything we could to take the win,” he said. “This was by far the heaviest grand tour I have ever raced, so I can definitely live with my second place. We rode brilliantly over these three weeks and I’m super proud of what we have achieved.”