Dumoulin: “I will not give up this jersey without a fight”

Tom Dumoulin won the time trial which opened the Giro d’Italia in Apeldoorn, the Netherlands, and became the first to wear the pink jersey of the race leader, while his teammate Tobias Ludvigsson finished fourth to become best young rider.

“This is incredible, even better than I ever dreamed. To win by such a small gap before this incredible home crowd is a very special feeling. There was pressure before the start but the experience from Utrecht last year helped me a lot and I was able to focus on my effort.

“This is a huge success not only for me but also for everyone in the team. For the upcoming stages we will try and defend this leader’s position for as long as possible. For sure, I will enjoy my day in the pink jersey tomorrow.

“I’m a very lucky man today! I realise how narrowly I’ve won by. It was a lot of suffering, especially at the end of the course. I’m actually feeling sick with a stomach bug but I’m also so so happy! I did it! The effort I made at the Tour de Romandie to prepare for this time trial has paid off.

”I didn’t do my best time trial today but also not my worst one. I would have liked to go a bit faster but only the result counts and winning here in the Netherlands is so special…

 “It sounds like I’ve made a few people happy today, hearing all the people who were shouting my name after I won, but mostly I made myself happy. It’s a very emotional moment. It’s a crazy feeling.

“In cycling, plans mostly don’t come together, because it’s pretty hard to win races in this sport. I was unlucky in one time trial in the Tour Romandie here I was very, very lucky. Two hundredths of a second is really nothing. This time I was on the right side of luck.

“I meant it when I said, it would be very difficult to win here and maybe my chances on the stage nine time trial are actually higher. The course was not necessarily the most favorable. But I did it and it’s beautiful.

“I knew that Primoz Roğlic had set a good time. When I crossed the line, I thought I was three seconds ahead of him, but we were actually on the same time.

”I’ve felt frustrated on a few occasions this year with second places in time trials but luck was on my side this time. It doesn’t matter if I win by a hundredth of a second, one second or ten seconds.

“It could have been one hundredth of a second or a minute or ten minutes margin for my victory, I don’t care. The important thing was winning.

”It’s an important step in my career. I didn’t grow up in a cycling environment but I’ve learned enough about the history of cycling to understand the meaning of the pink jersey. I hope I still have it when we arrive in Italy but it will be hard to keep it against the sprinters who will fight for time bonusses. However I’ll do my best to wear the pink jersey in this beautiful country.

”The weather forecast is good for the next two days and I believe a lot of people will be out on the road to cheer me on. It’s very special to be in this position in the Netherlands.

“I was definitely more relaxed, although if I look at the time trial itself, I don’t think it was much worse than this, only the result is better. Even when I win a race, I’m still thinking about whether I should have taken this or that line on a corner. Perfection doesn’t exist, although for sure I did better cornering than in Utrecht.

“At the Tour, it was the first time I had the pressure of being the big favourite in a big race in my country. But an hour before the start I started feeling big pressure. I made the right choices, I was able to concentrate well. I’m not sure I did a better time trial than in Utrecht. I just had more luck.

“It was really special, the whole of Apeldoorn was pink and it was like riding through a wall of noise. I think there will a lot more people out on the roads for the two remaining stages.

“He [the King] said he had nine minutes scheduled to follow me in the car and I told him that might be pretty tough to do! But he’s also a cycling fan, as well as other sports, and it’s special to have met him and have a bit of a conversation with him.

“Our goal is to defend the pink jersey as long as possible, but I didn’t come here with a GC goal. I didn’t do any altitude training beforehand and it’ll be difficult for me in the high mountains. But we have a good team here and we will try and defend it as long as possible.

“I’m not here for the general classification, but that does not mean I will not defend the jersey. I will defend it. What I mean when I say I do not go for the General, is that I’m not prepared for it. I have not done an altitude training camp. I will therefore be limited in the mountains. But I will not give up this pink jersey without a fight.”