ABU DHABI // Tom Dumoulin has set two targets for next year: he wants to keep his objective of winning a Grand Tour and an Olympic gold medal at Rio de Janeiro.
“Rio is certainly on my agenda but I hope it fits into my schedule,” he said when asked of his dual ambition during last night’s Abu Dhabi Tour’s pre-race news conference at Yas Marina Circuit.
Dumoulin is considered by many to be a cyclist to watch out for in next year’s Tour de France, and it has much to do with his performance this year in Vuelta a Espana — two races that, along with the Giro d’Italia, comprise the Grand Tours.
The Dutchman opened a few eyes by leading after six stages at Spain’s biggest race.
He held off former Tour de France winner Chris Froome to win Stage 9 on a difficult mountain course and regained the overall lead after Stage 17 when he won an individual time trial.
He took a six-second lead over Italy’s Fabio Aru after Stage 19 with a strong finish over cobblestones. But Dumoulin gave way on the last mountain stage to repeated attacks from Aru and was eventually dropped. He ended sixth overall when the race concluded in Madrid the next day.
“I was surprised myself and many people in Vuelta a Espana,” Dumoulin said.
“I didn’t know it was possible for me to win a Grand Tour.
“I wanted to try it in a few years. It was already possible now, and it was surprising. It changes a lot for next season and next year.”
Dumoulin, 24, will be teaming up with Marcel Kittel for one last time — for the final race of the season in the Abu Dhabi Tour — with the German joining Etixx-Quick Step as a replacement for Briton Mark Cavendish.
“It is definitely pity that Marcel is leaving the team,” Dumoulin said.
“He is certain to always get lots of victories every season and only this season it was a tough year for him. Everyone likes him and it’s a pity that he is leaving. He is not a rider whom we can replace, you see.”
Dumoulin will be riding for the first time in Abu Dhabi and said the hot weather and the wide roads will present challenges.
“The whole environment is different for us here,” he said. “The roads are very wide and flat, but it will be very hot.
“It is a big change and the rider who has the experience of this heat will be the rider to win the race.
“I would like to end on high note with good legs and good result. But I don’t know as last I raced in Lombardia, and it was disappointing for me as I was tired.
“It was really difficult last week and month, but I hope to do really well here.”
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