Aside from Dumoulin himself, Haga and Laurens ten Dam are the only two riders from the 2017 Giro d’Italia Team Sunweb line-up to return with the Dutchman’s squad, in for the 2018 corsa rosa.
Last year, Team Sunweb put up a spirited defence of Dumoulin’s jersey, but he was visibly isolated in the third week in the mountains, particularly after the loss of Wilco Kelderman because of a crash in the second week.
This year, like all squads, Team Sunweb has been reduced by one rider, from nine to eight, for the Grand Tours. Last year fast-man Phil Bauhaus was part of the Giro d’Italia line-up, but Haga tells Cyclingnews, the team have scrapped any secondary objectives completely in favour of a purely GC-focussed team.
“As a squad, it’s really climber-heavy, this time there’s no sprinter,” Haga said early in the race.
“I’m considered a little bit of a climber and I had that role last year, but this time around I’ll be one of the guys dropped earlier on the lower slopes of the mountain stages after doing my work. He’ll have support from other riders” – like Louis Vervake and Sam Oomen – “higher up the climb.
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