Despite a strong performance in last year’s Vuelta a España, Dutch rider Tom Dumoulin is delaying any Grand Tour attempts and focussing on Olympic Games time trial glory in Rio
Talking ahead of the Tour of Oman, where he begins his season on Tuesday, the 25-year-old told reporters he would postpone any Grand Tour attempts for a year.
It had been thought the former Dutch time trial champion would challenge for the Giro, which this year has more time trialling than is usual for the Italian race. This was reinforced by his performance in the mountain’s of last year’s Vuelta a España where he relinquished the leader’s red jersey only on the penultimate stage, eventually finishing sixth.
“I will start the Giro, but my expectation is not for GC, but for time trials,” he said. “After a Vuelta like that you would immediately go for GC in Grand Tours, but I decided to postpone that for one year and keep focussing on time trials.
“The Olympics are only once every four years and it’s not often that I find a time trial that suits me really well. So maybe my next chance will never come. Rio is also very much up hill, so I really need to focus on my weight and my climbing also.”
The Dutch national team visited Rio late last year, but Dumoulin was on holiday and did not attend. Though he has only see the course on video, he does not think that will be a problem: “I went to see the course in Utrecht before the Tour de France, and I have to say that it didn’t really help me,” he said.
“The organisation of the Tour in Utrecht completely blocked it with motorcycles and I had a free go on the course, but I could not get that same race feeling. It’s just about getting an impression and it’s a long trip to make it to Rio to get an impression. I will be there one week before at least and then I will have time.”
Tuesday’s first stage in Oman is Dumoulin’s first race of the season and, although he would like to perform well, he is not too worried this early in the year.
“I hope my shape is good enough to really compete,” he said. “We don’t really have a GC goal that we really stress about, I think there will be a lot more stressful moments in the season.
“I had a look on the internet and it’s hard,” he said of the course. “There’s one sprinter’s stage and the rest has some tricky moments in the final and two uphill finishes. But that’s good for me, I’m not here to sprint.”
The Dutchman also played down expectations for the team this spring following the training camp crash in Spain last month.
“We not only have the six riders that crashed out, but more with some injuries,” he explained. “If you count the riders that can really do races, it’s not a lot. We had to make some changes in programmes of some riders and it’s definitely difficult.”
Dumoulin also added that most of those injured have now either returned to training on the road or on an indoor trainer. Giant-Alpecin will field six riders rather than the eight of other teams in the Tour of Oman.