Australians Chris Hamilton, Robert Power and Jai Hindley will form part of Sunweb’s eight-man squad for the three-week race, which Dumoulin has again targeted following his title win in 2017 and second place to Chris Froome (Ineos) last season.
The trio collectively have only competed in three Grand Tours but speaking to Cycling Central in a phone interview from Europe, Reef was confident they were not only up to the significant task but able in the second and third week of the race.
“We really have trust in all three that they will have a high and stable level, and maybe even better level during the Giro,” Reef said. “It’s mostly in the second half of the Giro they will have the really tough mountain days. It’s important they can support Tom there in that moment.”
Hamilton is the most experienced Grand Tour racer of the three. He supported Dumoulin in his Giro bid last season and competed at the 2017 Vuelta a España for Warren Barguil, until the Frenchman was sent home.
“Chris had in both Grand Tours some problems in the beginning, but he came through it and he only got better towards the end. His best shape in both Grand Tours was in the last weekend where he was still with the last 25-30 riders in the top mountain stages. There we saw he has a good engine that can get over some problems during a Grand Tour and only get better towards the end,” observed Reef.
Hindley competed for Sunweb at the 2018 Vuelta. He supported Wilco Kelderman to 10th overall and himself placed 32nd on the general classification. Meanwhile, Power, formerly Mitchelton-Scott, will make his Grand Tour debut in what is his first season with the squad.
“Jai showed last year during the Vuelta that he has got a really high and stable level, and also made a difference in the last mountain stage in the Vuelta last year for Wilco. He took him back towards the group only the favourites where in, in the last mountain stage. Several times he was able to be in good groups to support Wilco in that Grand Tour,” said Reef.
“Rob hasn’t done one, but he’s been professional for a few years and he has a big engine. We believe that over three weeks he will be stable in this shape.”
Sunweb made some adjustments to its Giro roster in lieu of hits it’s taken this season. Sam Oomen will replace Dumoulin’s 2IC, Kelderman, who is recovering from a crash at the Volta a Catalunya in which he fractured his collarbone and vertebrae. Hamilton and Power were on an original long list for the Giro, while Hindley was a later addition, replacing the injured Martijn Tusveld. Jan Bakelants, Chad Haga and Louis Vervaeke round out the team.
Dumoulin is set to enter his title tilt on the back of an altitude training camp. He last competed at Liege-Bastogne-Liege, finishing 50th. The Giro begins with a short individual time trial in Bologna, Italy, which presents the 28-year-old with an opportunity to take the maglia rosa on the first day of competition, as he did last year.