Giro d'Italia: ‘The team kept believing in me, it paid off, I’m back’ says resurgent Thymen Arensman

Dutch climber rises to ninth overall at Giro d’Italia following comeback performances, but UAE Team Emirates crack down on his attacking hopes

Clock17:53, Saturday 11th May 2024
Thymen Arensman attacked with 1.4km to go on Prati di Tivo, but was closely marked by the eventual stage winner Tadej Pogačar

© Getty Images

Thymen Arensman attacked with 1.4km to go on Prati di Tivo, but was closely marked by the eventual stage winner Tadej Pogačar

Perhaps indicative of the Dutchman’s disappointing start to the Giro d’Italia last weekend, Thymen Arensman appeared more than a little confused when his presence was requested for an interview with GCN beyond the finish line of stage 8.

‘There are none for me,’ or words to that effect was his response when asked by his press officer if a media engagement was to his liking. But the 24-year-old is a man well worth talking to, such is the honesty in his answers and his ability on the bike.

After shedding time by the bucketload over the first two stages of this year’s race, Arensman has steadily improved as the first week broke into stride and by the stage 7 time trial, it was clear that Ineos Grenadiers’ secondary GC leader was well in the ascendancy. He finished fourth place on the day with a searing performance that saw the Dutchman move up 15 places in the general classification.

A day later, Arensman’s resurgence continued with an eighth-place finish atop the Prati di Tivo mountain, rewarded with an improvement to ninth place overall by the end of the day. The pair of performances left him with lots to be pleased with when mulling over the stage with GCN just beyond the line.

“Everybody in the team kept believing in me and they were right, I’m back,” he said. “I just had two bad days in the beginning and now I am back, the team always kept believing in me and it paid off.”

A smile on Arensman’s face had been a rare sight earlier in the week. After coming into the race with high expectations following his sixth-place finish last season, things began to unravel for the Dutchman on the penultimate climb of stage 1.

With his time losses ballooning to well over two minutes to Tadej Pogačar (UAE Team Emirates) and more, Arensman’s father launched into a small tirade on social media app, X. Arensman Sr reserved particular criticism for Ineos Grenadiers’ coaching strategy before the Giro, expressing relief that the race had started so that “no trainer can [s]crew up a cyclist form anymore for the next three weeks.”

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This controversy was soon played down by Ineos Grenadiers, while the 24-year-old put his head down and concentrated on riding his way through a tricky spell. Further time losses followed on stage 2, but his tall frame was often seen at the front of proceedings for the following few days, something particularly noticeable on the gravel stage to Rapolano Terme on Thursday.

UAE Team Emirates mark out Arensman in mountains

With his form back on track, Ineos Grenadiers were keen to put Arensman on the offensive on stage 8.

“We had Johnny [Narváez] and Magnus [Sheffield] in the break, we wanted to have two guys in the break and then if it was really carnage and full gas then I could have a look.”

“But I only lifted my ass and half of the bunch was screaming my name that I was going. It’s good to know, I will take it as a compliment I guess,” he added with a smile.

With UAE Team Emirates keeping the day’s sizable breakaway within touching distance, the comfortable race leader Pogačar took advantage to win the summit finish atop Prati di Tivo, his third stage victory of the week. It was another day for their rivals to mop up secondary positions and count their losses in bonus seconds, but with his gap to the Slovenian still standing at over five minutes, Arensman need not be concerned with such things at this moment.

Read more: 'Giro d'Italia is UAE Team Emirates' race to lose' say Ineos Grenadiers after Pogačar demolition

All that matters for the Dutchman is that he has ridden his way through a rough patch and come out the other side with a top five finish still well within reach.

“UAE kept it really close, chapeau to them, they were strong. We knew that it was for the GC favourites for the stage and I feel better and better, so it was nice to be in the mix and be there with G [Geraint Thomas]. I missed a bit on the punch to the line but I know that for myself and I will only get better I guess.”

It is for Thomas that Arensman’s priorities remain, despite his upturn in momentum. It may be UAE Team Emirates’ race to lose, but that hasn’t extinguished all hope from the chasing pack. Not yet, at least.

“We are still here to win the race, you know everything can happen, the Giro is long. So a podium is nice but I think we’re here just to win the race, so I am happy to sacrifice my GC for G to win, for example.”

Read more: 'Why not think of the pink jersey?' Dani Martínez impresses as best of the rest at Giro d'Italia

For everything you need to know about the 2024 Giro d'Italia, from the history of the race to this year's route and start list, be sure to check out our dedicated race hub.

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