• Tom Dumoulin is hoping to settle in as a perennial GC contender. (Getty)Source: Getty
Understated all-rounder Tom Dumoulin has unequivocally backed himself ahead of his most concerted Grand Tour title effort at the Giro d’Italia that starts tonight.
Sophie Smith

Cycling Central
6 May 2017 - 8:06 AM  UPDATED 6 May 2017 - 8:08 AM

The 26-year-old, save for sprinter Phil Bauhaus, has a Sunweb team entirely designed around his Grand Tour aims, which he sacrificed last season to fully focus on the Rio Olympic Games.

Dumoulin has become a face of Sunweb since it adjusted its Grand Tour focus from sprint success, with the departed Marcel Kittel and John Degenkolb, to overall with he and Warren Barguil.

Speaking at a pre-race press conference, the Dutchman spoke with the confidence of a champion, ready to take it to more publicised race favourites in Nairo Quintana (Movistar) and defending champion Vincenzo Nibali (Bahrain-Merida).

“I am never scared before a race, or even during a race. I’m never scared of anyone,” Dumoulin said. “It’s one of the strongest line-ups in the past years. I know what my level is against all the guys.”

Dumoulin isn’t a stranger to the Grand Tour spotlight, last year leading the Giro as well as the Vuelta a España around his Olympic pursuit.

The two-time Tour de France stage winner on paper has had a quiet season, yet to chalk a victory on the board, but his performances on undulating and mountain stages pertain to increased mental and physical strengths.

“I’m here to do really well on GC. Winning the Giro is normally out of reach; to do so, I’d need to be in my best shape ever and have all possible luck,” Dumoulin said.

“My preparation went well. We have a strong team, we’re mentally and physically fresh for three weeks. I only rode for GC once, at the Vuelta a España two years ago, uphill I was just limiting the losses. Since then, I’m calmer and I’ve made some improvements uphill.

“The first half of the Giro is not super difficult. I don’t think the differences on GC will be big after Etna and the Blockhaus. The stage that includes Stelvio and Mortirolo is the hardest, but any of the stages in the last week can’t be underestimated.

“The last week is going to be terrible. It’s really hard and everything will be decided.”