Tom Dumoulin, Bouwman's gregarious leader

Cycling has something in common with journalism.

Tom Dumoulin, Bouwman's gregarious leader

Cycling has something in common with journalism. Every day is a world. Each day is different from the previous one. There are rarely two restful and quiet days in a row. And in the morning you start over from scratch. With a blank page, with a brand new tour. Thus, the bland stage on Thursday, which became eternal, with the cyclists accumulating delay to finish at 70 km/h on the volata, was followed by one with dozens of attacks. From a distance, halfway through the stage, among the escapees, and at the end. Each slope, and there was not a flat kilometer, was susceptible to a hole. Bouwman (Jumbo) won, who had a leader like Tom Dumoulin as a gregarious.

“It was the easiest stage of my life,” Mathieu van der Poel, who likes strong emotions, who does not know how to go slow, wrote on Strava about the ride on the way to Scalea. Friday's was the opposite. Nervous from the beginning, with movement, with different, long and other intense ports of the Lucan Apennines, with a leg-breaking profile and more than 4,500 meters of accumulated difference in altitude. "It's been a difficult day," recognized Juanpe López (Trek), who is already on his fourth day in pink and who will try to defend it on Sunday at the Blockhaus.

The race was launched from the start. Nothing to expect. Attacks, counterattacks, neutralizations, groupings and new demarrajes. Consolidating the escape was very hard. And with 138 kilometers to go, Richard Carapaz got playful. With the memory of Montsany in the Volta, where he turned the general upside down, the Ecuadorian tried to leave with his teammate Narváez and with Van der Poel (Alpecin), the first leader of the Giro. The three reached the head of the race in full ascent to the Sirino. But they were too dangerous. López's Trek did not allow it.

Seven runners made their way, four Dutch, including Koen Bouwman and Dumoulin (from Jumbo) and Bauke Mollema, Juanpe's partner. But neither speaking the same language, or perhaps because of that, they agreed. The adventurers continued to attack each other, without restraint. There was no truce or agreement.

Bouwman was lucky to have Dumoulin at his side. The 2017 Giro winner lost more than six minutes on Etna but hasn't given up or turned his back on the team or the race. He put himself under the orders of his partner, gave good relief and cut down all attempts to break up the group. With his class and his legs (he was also second in the Tour and in the Giro in 2018), everything seems easier. The Maastricht giant, who gave up cycling for six months to deal with the pressure, reconciled himself to cycling.

He had already returned to the Games to win a silver in the time trial but in his first Grand Tour, this Giro, he soon understood that he was not here to win or fight for the podium. Instead, he has found a new motivation. He was fourth in Potenza, but working until the last 200 meters for Bouwman, the winner. The theoretical leader of the ranks sacrificed himself and had no problem putting on the assistant suit for a colleague who had not won for five years and who usually works for others. The two entered the finish line with their arms raised. "I can't describe how I feel about this victory," said Bouwman, who embraced Dumoulin in a grateful hug.


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