Team Sunweb’s Tom Dumoulin enjoyed the best season of his career so far in 2017, with overall victory at the Giro d’Italia and gold in the World Championship individual time trial being the two main highlights.
We had trackers on Dumoulin’s bike at various points of the year and have used the power data we recorded to chart how he built his success.
Dumoulin got his year off to an impressive start by finishing third overall at the Abu Dhabi Tour in late-February, just 10 weeks before the start of the Giro. Also racing were Nairo Quintana (Movistar Team) and Vincenzo Nibali (Bahrain-Merida), who would be his closest rivals in Italy.
The Abu Dhabi Tour was decided on Stage 3’s summit finish at Jebel Hafeet, a 10km climb averaging 6.5 per cent in gradient that was ridden at a furious pace. This was Dumoulin data on the climb:
Effort 1: Start of the climb
- Time: 4’08’’.
- Speed: 28.0km/h.
- Power: 461W.
- Outcome: Dumoulin shuts down an attack from Quintana.
Effort 2: Attacking with 2km to go
- Time: 2’34’’.
- Speed: 23.9km/h.
- Power: 421W.
- Outcome: Dumoulin finishes third on the stage and puts 48 seconds into Quintana and 1’05” into Nibali.
The data shows Dumoulin is already producing well over 400W on long, steep climbs and is strong enough to finish in the top three in a high-quality field. It’s a great start to the year.
INTO THE SPRING
Dumoulin finished an impressive fifth at Strade Bianche at the start of March before heading to the seven-day Tirreno-Adriatico. Once again, Quintana and Nibali were among the opposition, as was Geraint Thomas (Team Sky), who was also targeting the Giro.
The first major test of the race was Stage 2’s hilly finish into Pomarance, which was won by Thomas. Dumoulin finished nine seconds later in second place, after launching this counter-attack in the closing kilometres:
- Time: 1’38’’.
- Speed: 36.9km/h (on a 4.3% gradient).
- Power in first 30sec of the attack: 660W.
- Average power for whole attack: 578W.
It’s another impressive acceleration that showed his condition was building nicely for the Giro. However, he was not yet in peak form, because he lost 41 seconds to Quintana on Stage 4’s summit finish and ended the race sixth overall.
FINAL GIRO PREPARATIONS
Dumoulin finished 69th at Milano-Sanremo in mid-March and then spent three weeks training at altitude in Tenerife, returning to racing with a 22nd-place finish at Liége-Bastogne-Liége at the end of April. That was his final warm-up for the Giro, which started on May 5.
The race’s first summit finish came on Mount Etna on Stage 4, but Dumoulin and the other contenders played out a stalemate and crossed the line together. The next summit finish, at Blockhaus on Stage 9, was won solo by Quintana.
The Blockhaus climb did not suit Dumoulin and he was distanced by Quintana initially, but he stayed calm, climbed at his own pace and even began to catch the Colombian close to the top, eventually finishing 24 seconds down in third place. Here was Dumoulin’s data:
Stage 9: Intense effort with 5km to go
- Time: 6’34’’.
- Speed: 17.6km/h.
- Power: 441W.
- 1min peak: 561W.
This effort left Dumoulin 30 seconds off Quintana’s overall lead, but the Dutchman took over in the pink jersey the next day with a dominant victory in Stage 10’s 40km individual time trial. He won the stage by 50 seconds and put 2’07” into Nibali and 2’53” into Quintana, which gave him a 2’23” lead at the top of the general classification. Here’s his data from the final section:
Stage 10: Last 4km
- Time: 7’17’’.
- Speed: 32.5km/h.
- Power: 411W.
- 30’’ peak power: 552W (sprint to the line).
By now Dumoulin was now at the very peak of his form, and he showed it once again by winning Stage 14’s summit finish at Oropa. Here was his data from two key sectors of the Oropa climb:
Chasing Quintana with 4km to go
- Time: 0’57’’.
- Speed: 24.8km/h.
- Power: 416W.
- 10’’ peak power: 473W.
Hitting the front with 1.5km to go
- Time: 0’16’’.
- Speed: 19.7km/h.
- Power: 454W.
These two efforts extended Dumoulin’s overall lead to 2’47” and put him firmly on course for overall victory. The key now would be defending his lead on the remaining mountain stages, but fatigue and other factors undermined him during the final week and Dumoulin’s grip on the maglia rosa began to slip.
He lost more than two minutes to Nibali and Quintana on Stage 16 after being forced to stop for a natural break just before the final climb, and he then made what he admitted was a “rookie error” on Stage 19, when he was caught on the wrong side of a split in the peloton initiated by Nibali and Quintana’s teams.
Dumoulin was forced to chase for almost an hour before finally catching back up in time for the climb to the summit finish at Piancavallo. However, his efforts had drained him and he was dropped early in the ascent. Here was his data as he fought to limit his losses:
Middle slopes of Piancavallo climb
- Time: 7’24’’.
- Speed: 27.0km/h.
- Power: 407W (1min peak: 451W).
Dumoulin ended up losing 1’09” to Quintana and 1’07” to Nibali, which was enough for Quintana to take back over in the pink jersey and open up a 38-second advantage over Dumoulin with one mountain stage and an all-important time trial remaining.
Dumoulin was once again dropped by Quintana and Nibali on the final climb of Stage 20 and reached the summit 25 seconds behind. The graphic below shows how he climbed 0.6km/h slower than his two closest rivals.
However, there was 15km of rolling road between the summit and finish line, and on this section Dumoulin managed to cut his losses for the day back to 15 seconds. The graphic below shows how he turned the tables on Quintana and Nibali.
Despite limiting his losses, that result relegated Dumoulin to fourth overall, 53 seconds behind leader Quintana and 14 seconds behind second-placed Nibali with just Stage 21’s 30km individual time trial into Milan remaining. The question now was: did Dumoulin have the energy left over to dominate this TT in the same way he had Stage 10’s and snatch overall victory?
The answer was a resounding yes. He didn’t win the stage after being beaten into second place by Jos van Emden (Team LottoNL-Jumbo), but he had done enough to claim overall victory by 31 seconds from runner-up Quintana and 40 seconds from third-placed Nibali.
INTO THE SUMMER
Dumoulin left the Giro exhausted but rode the Hammer Climb at Hammer Sportzone Limburg just a week later and mustered another superb performance. He made it into the leading group and played a key role in his Team Sunweb team finishing second on the day. Here was his data from the race:
Full Hammer Climb race
- Time: 2h2’00’’.
- Speed: 38.2km/h.
- Power: 306W.
- 3min peak: 498W.
Final 2.2km of the last of 11 laps
- Time: 4’31’’.
- Speed: 29.2km/h.
- Power: 404W.
- 20s sprint power: 823W.
The Hammer Climb was one of the toughest single days of racing we recorded all year, so for Dumoulin to produce such impressive numbers so soon after winning a draining Giro was a remarkable feat.
After Hammer Sportzone Limburg, Dumoulin headed to the Tour de Suisse with hopes of a strong result in the general classification. He got his race off to a good start by finishing fifth in the hilly 6km prologue in Cham. Here was his data:
- Time: 6’33’’.
- Speed: 55.0km/h.
- Time: 1’06’’
- Speed: 65.5km/h
- Power: 462W
- 20s peak power: 489W
This is another excellent performance that suggested he could challenge for overall victory. He climbed to second place overall by the end of Stage 3, but his exhaustion finally caught up with him on the mountainous fourth stage and he abandoned the race after Stage 5.
After a richly deserved break, Dumoulin went back to training for objectives later in the summer and successfully engineered a second peak in form, which led him to overall victory at the BinckBank Tour and then first place in the World Championship time trial.