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Dumoulin goes for Pink and Gold

‘This time trial really suits me, so that’s my top priority this year, because the Olympic Games only come along once every four years.’

After a near miss at the Vuelta in 2015, Tom Dumoulin sets his sights on the Olympic time trial in Rio. But first he’s got some unfinished business: a second chance to win a Grand Tour jersey on home territory as the Giro d’Italia opens in Apeldoorn, the Netherlands on 6 May. 

Eight seconds, eight measly seconds. These few short moments separated Tom Dumoulin from the yellow jersey in a sweltering Utrecht. His dream of the leader's jersey in a Grand Tour in his home country was not to be. On Friday 6 May, Dumoulin gets a second chance - in Apeldoorn, in the province of Gelderland, he'll aim to win the pink jersey in a 9.8-kilometre time trial. Pink, in the Netherlands.

Already in the Vuelta of 2015, the 25 year old Dumoulin had the honour of wearing the red leader's jersey for six days. So he knows what a great feeling that is. But that was in Spain, not here. Winning and then wearing the race leader's shirt on home turf - well that's a whole different ballgame. In addition to the Olympic time trial and a world championship in Doha, this is his major goal for the season.

Three peaks, yet the biggest red circle in Dumoulin's diary marks the Olympic time trial in Rio de Janeiro. ‘The Olympic Games is once every four years. I'm now 25 years old, so I'll participate in the Olympiad just three times. And the chance of me finishing another great time trial again in those three events is very small. So it's priority number one on my list of goals.’

Dumoulin has not yet even seen the 54-kilometre long course in the hills around Rio, as he'll be studying it in the week before the actual time trial. The race against the clock there is almost a cross between a flat time trial and an uphill climb time trial. According to Holland's Hope, this is perfect for him.

‘It's to my advantage that it's so arduous. On the flat sections I can achieve a high speed with the right position on my bike. And when going uphill, I can pull out a big lead with the real fast riders. Tony Martin, maybe by biggest competitor, can on a good day also complete uphill time trials fast, but relatively speaking he has a better chance on a flat course. Chris Froome has also set his sights on the time trial in Rio, but in his case it's the other way around. He can pull out a lead against the competition going uphill. ’

‘I'll not be travelling to Rio in advance. But don't worry, I'm able to get a very good impression of the course in my own way. With the Dutch selection, we'll be doing a recce of the course once we're in Brazil. Until that time, it's up to me to prepare thoroughly, with nutrition, material, mental focus and training sessions. But a thorough recce is only really possible once we've got there - you can't get a proper idea of the corners, inclines and declines in advance. There would have been little point going there in the winter, what with all the traffic. The maps and videos are enough for me right now.’

Before the cycling-crazy Dutch are glued to their boxes for the Olympic time trials, we'll be cycling two Grand Tours: the Giro d’Italia and the Tour de France. In Italy, he'll certainly be representing his country. Three time trials over various types of terrain and distances make it a genuine test case for Rio. But that pink in Apeldoorn, that's the ultimate revenge after a slightly disappointing race in Utrecht.

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