The eyes of all bike racing fans are currently focussed on the Giro d’Italia—the Tour of Italy. This year the race began in Israel and moved onto Sicily last week. Every day for the next couple of weeks we can all enjoy the daily performances and struggles of the riders in the peleton, while enjoying the helicopter views of the most beautiful Italian landscape at the same time. There are quite a few Dutch riders in the peleton this year, and here are a few names to keep your eye on.
Tom Dumoulin is going for the win
Tom Dumoulin is without doubt the biggest name in Dutch cycling at the moment. He finally emerged as a Grand Tour contender in 2015, when he suddenly found himself leading the Tour of Spain for several days. He set his sights on the Olympic Games in 2016, only aiming for a high Grand Tour general classification (GC) for the first time during the 2017 Giro. He won. This year he is one of the clear favourites.
Sam Oomen is Tom’s most important helper
While Dumoulin won last year’s Giro, it was certainly not easy, especially as he had to do most of the work in mountains on his own—Wilco Kelderman left the race early and Laurens ten Dam was not as strong as had been hoped. This year ten Dam aims to correct that, and quite a bit of hope is being pinned on the young rider Sam Oomen. Oomen’s role is to stay with Dumoulin for as long as he can in the mountains and help his captain win the overall classification. If everything goes well, he may well end up high in the GC himself.
Maurits Lammertink can finally show what he’s made of
Maurits Lammertink has been in the peleton for quite a few years now. He began riding for Vacansoleil, which gave him a taste of serious racing. He then moved on to Roompot-Oranje Peleton and he has been riding for Katusha-Alpecin since 2017. Lammertink has booked some decent results in the past, such as his victory in the Tour of Luxembourg, and he is particularly suited to the profile of this year’s Giro. We expect him to do quite well.
Jos van Emden is aiming for the second time trial
Van Emden has been in the pro peleton since 2008, after starting his career in the Rabobank training squad. Throughout his career he has proven to be a dedicated rider—both to his team and his fellow riders. He is particularly good at using all his power to make sure his team leaders get the right position, by relentlessly grinding at the front of the peleton. He is also a time trial specialist and experienced an absolute career high point during the 2017 Giro: he won the final time trial, the same stage that sealed Tom Dumoulin’s overall victory. This year he is focussed on the Giro’s second time trial—the 34.5-kilometre ride from Trento to Roverto on May 23.
Robert Gesink is going for the mountain stages
For many years, Robert Gesink was Holland’s great hope for the Grand Tours. And, to be honest, he had indeed ridden some pretty impressive results. He ended fourth in the official result of the 2010 Tour de France (admittedly after several names were removed) and he has also performed well in the Tour of Spain on several occasions. For the last couple of years, he has been aiming purely for stage wins. His victory on the Col d’Aubisque during the 2016 Vuelta was definitely a high point, and this year we should keep an eye on him whenever a Grand Tour stage ends on a summit.
Wout Poels is Froome’s right-hand man
Wout Poels has always been a good rider, but his career only really blossomed once he joined the ranks of Team Sky. He won the 2016 edition of Liège-Bastogne-Liège with great style, and has helped Chris Froome to victory on a number of occasions. This year too, his role is to support the Team Sky leader and work as hard as he can on Froome’s behalf. Should Froome exit the race for some reason or other, then Team Sky could do worse than to give this cheerful Limburger a temporary promotion.