Thymen Arensman gained '4 or 5 kilos' during Giro d'Italia, targets future podium

Ineos Grenadiers' Dutchman finished sixth for the second year running but points to opening weekend and his weight gain for not cracking top five

Clock08:16, Thursday 30th May 2024
Thymen Arensman spent much of the Giro d'Italia chaperoning his Ineos Grenadiers leader Geraint Thomas around Italy

© Getty Images

Thymen Arensman spent much of the Giro d'Italia chaperoning his Ineos Grenadiers leader Geraint Thomas around Italy

At the Giro d'Italia, Ineos Grenadiers' Thymen Arensman finished sixth at a Grand Tour for the third time in his fledgling career. The Dutchman has added to his sixth-place from the 2022 Vuelta a España with a pair of sixth-place finishes at the Giro in 2023 and 2024.

The result represents a continuation of Arensman's development since signing for the British team at the start of last season, with the 24-year-old once again helping his teammate Geraint Thomas to a podium finish in Rome. For Arensman, though, there is a feeling of what might have been for his own result.

Despite sixth being a commendable finish in its own right, the Dutchman believes he is already capable of challenging for Grand Tour podiums and his difficulties throughout the opening weekend have by now been well documented.

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Interviewed by In De Leiderstrui at the end of this year's Giro, Arensman pointed to two factors that prevented him from a higher finish in the general classification: a troubling opening weekend and his surprising weight gain through the final week.

"Finishing sixth three times... You want something better than that, but that makes me very motivated for the next Grand Tour where I go for the general classification," he said.

"That opening weekend is still in the back of my mind, but also that I had to let go on stage 20. That had a very simple reason: I gained four or five kilos in the Giro."

The concept of a rider gaining weight during a Grand Tour may seem unusual but it is actually fairly common. To sustain themselves throughout the three weeks of competition, professional cyclists have to consume thousands of calories and avoid dehydration by drinking litre upon litre of water.

In Arensman's case, he felt the effects of his weight gain during the final mountain stage last Saturday, where he was unable to keep up with the likes of Thomas as they made their futile pursuit of the leader on the road and dominant victor of this year's Giro, Tadej Pogačar (UAE Team Emirates).

When asked how he had gained four to five kilos during the race, Arensman pointed to his fluid intake and retention.

"Probably moisture. I broke all power records on Saturday, but if you are well over 70 kilos, you just can't keep up, no matter how much power you deliver to the pedals," he replied. "My skin folds were very low for me, so that means four or five litres of fluid. That will be useful next time to find out what exactly that is."

The Dutchman, who says his usual race weight fluctuates around 68kg, said that the Giro has taught him which weather conditions he performs best in.

"Apparently I retain a lot of fluid, which may also have something to do with the fact that I can handle the heat a little less well. I'm better in the cold, but in the first two weeks of the Giro, it was warmer than expected. That's exactly what I was referring to: good lessons for the future.

"If I can get those first days and my weight in order and you see how many minutes I'm off the podium now. Then the podium is one hundred per cent possible."

'I'm in a really good place with Ineos Grenadiers'

By the end of the race on Sunday, the Ineos Grenadiers co-leader was well over 14 minutes down on the tyrannical race winner Pogačar, but with a 4:07 gap to his teammate Thomas, Arensman feels that it could be himself finishing on the podium for Ineos Grenadiers in the future.

His contract with the team is due to run out at the end of the season. However, given that his father publicly criticized Ineos Grenadiers at the beginning of the Giro d'Italia, there were question marks over his next steps for 2025. When asked if he sees himself making his next Grand Tour progression with the British team, Arensman answered in the affirmative.

"I think so, certainly. The team has confidence in me. They see me as a podium candidate and a leader, so as far as I'm concerned I'm in a really good place here."

Having identified his two major problems from the Giro – his notoriously poor start to Grand Tours and his weight gain heading into stage 20 – Arensman can rightfully rationalise his time losses to the second and third-place finishers, Dani Martínez (Bora-Hansgrohe) and Thomas.

Over stages 1 and 2, the Dutchman lost 3:22 to the pair as he endured another rough start to a three-week race, whilst stage 20 added another 1:01 deficit to Thomas and 1:06 to Martínez including the Colombian's bonus seconds.

In those three stages alone, Arensman ceded 4:23 to his teammate Thomas, without which he would have finished third place on GC and just 12 seconds behind Martínez. Of course, the same 'what ifs' could be made for every rider in the top 10, but for Arensman it offers the motivation to find solutions to his issues.

Together with his coach Dajo Sanders, Arensman already began looking into solutions for his slow starts after the opening weekend, and although the 24-year-old now has seven Grand Tours under his belt, the Dutchman is well aware that he has time on his side when plotting his path to out-and-out Grand Tour leadership with Ineos Grenadiers.

"We are going to look at that and moreover there are still things that we have learned from the Giro, in which I can improve. I'm only 24 and if you look at Geraint who is 14 years older, I still have years to make that podium someday. I feel that I have become stronger and I mainly take that with me."

For all the latest developments from the world of professional cycling, make sure to head over to our dedicated racing news section of the GCN website.

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