Sun, May 06, 2018 - Page 11 News List

‘Perfect’ Dumoulin wins Giro first stage


Team Sunweb’s Tom Dumoulin competes in the first stage of the Giro d’Italia, a 9.7km individual time trial, in Jerusalem on Friday.

Photo: EPA-EFE

Reigning champion Tom Dumoulin hailed a “perfect” display as he laid down a marker to main rival Chris Froome by winning the opening stage of the Giro d’Italia in Jerusalem on Friday.

Dutchman Dumoulin edged out Australian Rohan Dennis by just two seconds in the 9.7km time trial as Froome struggled following a crash in morning training, finishing 21st and losing 37 seconds.

Froome’s buildup to his attempt to become only the third man in history to hold all three Grand Tour titles at once — he won the Tour de France and Vuelta a Espana last year — had already been compromised by a scandal over an adverse doping test reading in September last year.

The 32-year-old returned a urine sample with elevated levels of salbutamol and spent much of his pre-race news conference on Wednesday answering questions about whether he should even be racing at the Giro.

Froome failed to find top form over the past few months, although he finished a credible fourth at the Tour of the Alps last month.

However, in previous years he has almost always won at least one week-long stage race in the lead-up to his major Grand Tour objective of the season.

His difficulties mounted on Friday morning, as he was one of several riders to hit the ground on a training ride, suffering cuts and abrasions and ripping his skin suit down the right side.

A video of his crash shared on Instagram showed that he hit the tarmac pretty hard.

Even so, few could have expected such a modest showing in a discipline in which he normally excels.

He was already well down at about 50th place at the intermediate time check just more than 5km into the stage.

Although he improved over the second half, he even finished behind slight climbers such as fellow Briton Simon Yates (seventh at 20 seconds), Italian Domenico Pozzovivo (10th at 27 seconds) and Frenchman Thibaut Pinot (16th at 33 seconds).

Normally, Froome would have expected to gain significant time on those three.

“I’m not relying on [time trials] to try and win this Giro with Tom here,” Froome said.

Dumoulin, 27, had no such troubles as he took to the course as the last of 175 riders, wearing the rainbow jersey of world time-trial champion.

“I knew I felt good in the last days. It was perfect,” said the Sunweb rider, who won his fourth Giro stage and is the first reigning champion in 12 years to also claim the opening stage of the following edition.

“This is all I wished for, the win and a lot of time on other GC [general classification] riders, so it was a perfect start for me and a perfect start for the team,” he added.

However, Dumoulin is not sure he will hold onto the pink jersey all the way to the business end of the race.

“We will see, we were not planning on defending it every day. The Giro is still very long,” he said. “It’s nice to have it today, but it’s hard to keep it for the whole three weeks, so we will see what we will do.”

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