Team Giant-Alpecin and Team Liv-Plantur were presented to the media and guests today at the Italian Embassy in Berlin. Team Giant-Alpecin chose the capital of Germany, where the team’s WorldTour license is registered, as the location of the Team Launch for the second year in a row.
The Ambassador of Italy, H.E. Pietro Benassi, officially opened the presentation in a setting offering a strong association with the history of cycling. Italy has brought the world legendary riders and monumental races such as the Giro d’Italia and Milan–San Remo, as well as the passion of the tifosi and a commitment to extending that passion for cycling to new areas all over the world.
The 2016 lineups of the men’s and women’s teams were presented to the audience, along with the full roster of partners. Title partners Giant and Alpecin and current partner Sunweb have been joined by Renson, the trendsetting Belgian manufacturer of ventilation systems, sun shading systems and terrace covers, as a new key partner for 2016 and beyond.
Team Giant-Alpecin CEO Iwan Spekenbrink said: “This year we are continuing to work with a young group of riders who will further develop within our unique elite sports environment based on the ‘Keep Challenging’ approach and principles. Alongside this we will have an enhanced focus on promoting the regrowth of cycling in Germany through grassroots development aimed at both German youth and young talents in the sport. So today is also an important day for German cycling.”
Tom during the presentation: “I can look back on 2015 with good feelings – it was kind of a break through season really, even if it didn’t work out exactly as planned. But this opened up new opportunities that I grabbed to make it special.
If you do a good GC ride once, it’s very tempting to become a GC rider and always go for GC in Grand Tours but my main goals are actually the time trial in Rio and the time trials in the Giro, so it’s going to be more of a time trial year than a GC year.”
Throughout his short career, Tom’s biggest problem has often been his surfeit of options, given his talents against the watch, in shorter stage races and hilly one-day races. When mapping out his 2016 campaign, Tom simply started with his priority: the Olympic time trial, and adapted the rest of the calendar around the Brazilian expedition.
“We knew that Rio would be the focus, the main goal, so we looked at what we could do. Normally two weeks after a Grand Tour, I’m going quite well so the Tour would have been an option. But on the other hand, I always react really well to altitude camps and training in general – look at the Vuelta, I only did six weeks of training before and I was in great shape,” Tom said.
“In the end, we went for the Giro because it starts in Holland and it’s a beautiful course for me with the two time trials, so there’s a chance to wear the pink jersey early on. How we approach things after the Giro is not completely certain yet, but probably it’s going to be training and the Tour of Poland.”
Having spent the first ten days of the 2015 Vuelta firmly insisting he had no expectations of staying in the general classification hunt for three weeks, Tom may have built a rod for his own back when it comes to downplaying expectations at the Giro d’Italia. And if Dumoulin peforms as he can in the Chianti time trial on stage 9, he will likely find himself in the general classification battle whether he wishes it or not.
“We’ll see after nine days how the GC is formed or where I’m at. It’s not the focus to go there for GC from the start, but what do you do if you’re still in GC after nine days? It’s a bit the like the Vuelta: we don’t have a plan yet, but it would be a waste to then sit up and do nothing,” Tom said.
Thinking of Rio
Dumoulin will begin his 2016 campaign at the Tour of Oman in late February, before tackling Paris-Nice, Milan-San Remo and the Volta a Catalunya. An appearance before his Limburg fans at Amstel Gold Race apart, he will eschew the Ardennes Classics in order to take in an altitude training camp ahead of the Tour de Romandie and the Giro d’Italia.
“I didn’t want to do all of the Ardennes Classics because I’ve focused three or four years on being good there and it never worked out. Maybe it’s not my time of year,” he admitted.
After the Giro d’Italia, all thoughts turn to Olympic preparations, though Dumoulin has ruled out the prospect of travelling to Rio de Janeiro to reconnoitre the course beforehand, citing the limited benefits of such a mid-season trek. He has been aware for the past two years, however, that the hilly parcours suits him better than, say, Tony Martin.
“We did a course recon of the Tour prologue in Utrecht last year and it wasn’t very helpful. I saw what it was like but it wasn’t like I changed my training or anything. It was only to see it, and it was so far ahead of the Tour that I forgot the course by the time it actually came around. And it didn’t change anything in terms of the result, I think,” Dumoulin said.
“And that was also our thought about going to Rio – will it change anything? Because it’s quite a long trip just to see a course, so we made the decision not to go. The national coach has filmed it, so I have all the videos, and I will watch it and in any case, I will be there at least a week or ten days before the Olympics.”