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The Sunweb pro is hoping to repeat his 2017 triumph and win his second maglia rosa. And while not happy about the overall shape of the Tour, he will return nonetheless.

“The course of the Tour was announced when I was in the middle of the mountains of Nepal for my honeymoon. I was in a cabin at 3,000 meters with my wife and we finally had some Wi-Fi, so I turned on my phone for a while but I was a bit disappointed with the Tour course.”

Giro d’Italia 2018: Tom Dumoulin, the winner of Giro d’Italia 2018 Chris Froome and Miguel Angel Lopez in Rome. © Profimedia, Uppa entertainment

That must have come as a blow to the Dutchman because he admitted that Sunweb’s GM Ivan Spekenbrink and the Dumoulin himself were already set on betting it all on the Tour.

“After the Tour presentation, I suddenly started to think whether that was a smart idea, I wrote [to Spekenbrink]: ‘Before you make a decision, we still need to talk.’ The team finally made the decision. It was a difficult choice because I know that I don’t have many years to win the Tour, but 2019 is just not a good year for me to put everything on the Tour.”

The Giro looks better for Dumoulin, as it features 58.5 kilometres of three individual time trials. The Tour has 54 kilometres of time trials, but half of them are team TT. Chris Froome is not returning to race in Italy this year, but the competition is still bound to be tough. Vincenzo Nibali, Simon Yates, Primož Roglič, Egan Bernal. All of those names command high respect. The 28-year-old is looking forward to the challenge.

Primoz Roglic and Tom Dumoulin ride in the last kilometers of the 17th stage of the 2018 Tour de France. © Profimedia, AFP

“I’m very enthusiastic about the plan to make the Giro the main goal again because I think that’s the best Grand Tour.”

He does admit, however, that he hopes to triumph in Paris one day.

“I realised, especially after last year, that I really want to win the Tour once. That would be the ultimate and that dream has become realistic now. I hope to ride very well in the Tour, but this was not one of the right years to focus on it completely. “