The first week of the 2018 Giro d’Italia was one to remember for Team Sunweb. The team earned a win in the opening stage in Israel, had the race leader’s maglia rosa for a day, and made it through the first few stages in Italy with its team leader Tom Dumoulin perfectly positioned in second place in the general classification.
Dumoulin got things off to a winning start 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, the 2017 Giro champion showed the competition that he’s ready to put up a fight to defend his title.
“We’ve worked really hard over the last few months, so I’m really happy with the win,” Dumoulin said after beating second-place finisher Rohan Dennis by 2 seconds. “It confirms that all of the work has paid off.”
The Giro continued in Israel for the following two days before heading to Italy for Stage 4. Dumoulin and Team Sunweb relinquished the leader’s jersey, but the Dutchman remained within striking distance, second overall, as the race headed into the mountains later in the week.
The first big test for the GC contenders came on Stage 6 in Sicily, a 169km race that featured a summit finish at Mount Etna. Dumoulin started the day second overall, 1 second behind Rohan, and the team’s main objective was to support their leader. So when a break of about 30 riders went clear at the 55km mark, Sam Oomen and Chad Haga joined it while the rest of the team stayed with Dumoulin in the main group.
The break was splitting up in the final kilometers, and the GC battle began on the final climb. Dumoulin, wearing the Giant Rev helmet and in good position thanks to his teammates, rode his own pace up the climb on his TCR Advanced SL, and finished among the GC favorites in eighth place. He remained in second place overall, 16 seconds behind stage winner and new race leader Simon Yates.
“There were a lot of attacks today but only Yates had the legs to really pull on,” Dumoulin said. “I decided to spice things up a little bit and see how everyone was doing. I felt like I had something left—not a lot but some, and I wanted to know if I was the only one feeling like that. I wasn’t super today but I was there so it was alright. It was good that with not the best legs I could still hang on.”
The following day’s Stage 7 was one for the sprinters, and Team Sunweb once again took good care of its leader, helping Dumoulin wrap up the first week in second place overall, right where he wants to be heading into a challenging week two in Italy.