Tom Dumoulin sets up Giro title defense with Stage 1 victory

(Photo by MENAHEM KAHANA/AFP/Getty Images)
(Photo by MENAHEM KAHANA/AFP/Getty Images) /

In less than 10 kilometers, world time trial champion Tom Dumoulin set himself up to defend the maglia rosa with a Stage 1 win at the 2018 Giro d’Italia.

On the opening stage of the 2018 Giro d’Italia, defending champion Tom Dumoulin set himself up strong to contend for a repeat crown. Arriving as the world time trial champion, Dumoulin responded with a two-second victory over Australian champion Rohan Dennis. With the performance, the Dutchman traded out the rainbow jersey for the maglia rosa of the Giro leader.

176 riders took to the starting gate for the historic opening stage in Jerusalem. Winding through the city on the 9.7-kilometer time trial course, the peloton became the first cyclists to race in a grand tour stage outside of Europe. The course offered a deceptive challenge that separated the general classification contenders before the race begins tackling the many mountains on the profile.

Other GC contenders failed to navigate the time trial course as effectively as Dumoulin. The rider who suffered the biggest setback s undoubtedly Chris Froome. His attempt to become the first rider in history to hold all three grand tour leader’s jerseys simultaneously took a hit when Froome finished 21st on the Jerusalem stage. The Team Sky leader now finds himself 37 seconds in arrears.

There is still a lot of racing left in the 2018 Giro

With only one of 21 stages in the books, there is still plenty of time for Dumoulin’s main rivals to catch up in the standings. Eight mountain summit finishes afford opportunities for Froome and others to chip away at Dumoulin’s early lead. Many things can and undoubtedly will happen between now and the last weekend of May.

The next few stages in Israel offer rare chances for sprinters to get into the action at this year’s Giro. That means Dumoulin will most likely hold on to the pink jersey at least until the race shifts to Italian soil. A wire-to-wire victory is rare at a grand tour, and Dumoulin’s team might opt to operate more strategically around which stages to target.

Next: Everything you need to know about the 2018 Giro route

But even just by snatching the narrow victory from early stage leader Dennis, Dumoulin put everyone else on notice. The defending Giro d’Italia champion will be a factor over the next three weeks. This Dutchman came back to the Giro in 2018 with every intention of repeating as champion, and now Froome, Fabio Aru, and all the other maglia rosa hopefuls must plot their response to this opening salvo.