Dutchman Tom Dumoulin of Giant-Alpecin first climbed his way into the red leader’s jersey at the Vuelta a España on stage 9, and then reclaimed the overall lead Wednesday with a crushing win in the time trial. With just three seconds’ advantage over Astana’s climbing specialist Fabio Aru, Dumoulin will have to defend the jersey aboard this Giant TCR Advanced SL.
Well before he won the Vuelta stage 17 time trial, Dumoulin has been known as an exceptional time trialist, with wins against the clock at stage races Critérium International, the Tour of the Basque Country and the Tour de Suisse, plus a bronze medal at last year’s world championships.
Now the question is not whether Dumoulin can win against the clock but if he can defy gravity and Aru to hold onto his lead through the Vuelta’s final climbing tests. If his performance on stage 9 is any indication — when he won atop the Alto de Puig Llorença climb ahead of Tour de France winner Chris Froome and other climbers like Nairo Quintana — then Dumoulin could well still be holding the lead when the race finishes Sunday in Madrid.
Here’s a look at the TCR Advanced SL that Dumoulin is racing at the Vuelta. Re-engineered for 2016, the TCR Advanced SL has the highest stiffess-to-weight ratio of any high-end bike on the market today, according to Giant. Like many riders, Dumoulin picks wheels based on the stage profile. At the Vuelta, Dumoulin is racing Shimano C50 tubular wheels for flat days or the shorter C35 tubulars for many of the climbing days. Similarly, Dumoulin has used a 36t inner ring (in place of a 39) on some of the steeper stages, paired with the standard 53.