Is Thymen Arensman the real deal? Dutch GC promise steps into leader’s shoes at Vuelta a España

Arensman embarks on 'voyage of discovery' with first full grand tour leadership role.

Photo: Getty Images

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Long touted the next big thing of Dutch GC racing, Thymen Arensman is unshackled from Romain Bardet and set to roam free at the Vuelta a España.

Arensman leads Team DSM into the Vuelta a España in what will be his first grand tour wearing the leader’s armband.

“It will be a huge voyage of discovery to see what I can do in three weeks. I am very happy with the opportunity that Team DSM offers me,” Arensman told Wielerflits.

Arensman, 22, has long been touted the next big GC thing to come out of the Netherlands. The nation is brimming with sizzling young sprinters like Fabio Jakobsen and Olav Kooij but still looking for the all-rounder that can ride in Tom Dumoulin’s wheel tracks.

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The Vuelta’s “Dutch start” allows Arensman the opportunity to show the expectant home crowd can do before he becomes part of the youth crew at grand tour powerhouse Ineos Grendiers next season.

“I’m curious and healthy nervous,” Arensman said. “I really can’t say what I’m hoping for. I can’t put a result on my ambitions yet, partly because it would put unnecessary pressure on myself.

“I really want to discover what I can do. Three weeks is so long and asks so much of me, so much can happen. I can’t do more than my best. Hopefully, I can put a nice result on it in a few years. But how it is now, I really don’t have the faintest idea.”

Racing with an open playbook

Arensman is cut from the same diesel mould as retired compatiot Tom Dumoulin. (Photo: Bas Czerwinski/Getty Images)

Stage victory and second overall behind future teammate Ethan Hayter at top tuneup race the Tour of Poland this month sees Arensman continue a trajectory he started when he hit the podium at Tour of the Alps in spring.

Two second places while pulling for Bardet at the following Giro d’Italia earned Arensman the front seat of the DSM bus in his teammate’s absence in Spain.

“We will look to hold Thymen in the GC and not lose time early in the race, taking a day-by-day approach with him,” team coach Matt Winston said.

Starting in the Utrecht city where he only recently finished his studies, this Vuelta hands Arensman the freedom to test his stage racing promise on a bigger scale.

“Maybe I won’t be good enough. Then I switch to chasing stages. But if it does manage to go for three weeks, that’s great,” Arensman told Wielerflits. “The team gives me a lot of freedom in that. This way I can really discover what my own body can do.”

Arensman admitted any assault on the overall won’t come with a bang. A startlist littered with pure climbers stands in Arensman’s way as he attempts two grand tours in one season for the first time in his young career.

The long lean diesel machine forecasted following on the steep Spanish ramps while revving the engine full in the stage 10 TT and longer climbs.

“That shape can’t be very far away. The Tour of Poland went pretty well,” he said. “You just never know with the strong field of participants at the start, or what you will encounter on the way in Spain.”

Bringing a bit of Bardet on board

Bardet and Arensman went one-three at the Tour of the Alps and raced together at the Giro. (Photo: Photo by Tim de Waele/Getty Images)

And while Bardet wasn’t on the boat that ferried riders to the team presentation in Utrecht on Thursday, Arensman’s Vuelta will still carry some French accent.

“I spent a lot of time with Romain in training camps. He taught me what it takes to act at this level,” Arensman said.

“In the Giro, I learned from him how to deal with your teammates as the leader of the team. It’s important that there is a good atmosphere, that you can joke and have a good relationship with each other. That also translates to cycling.

“That’s what I tried to learn from Romain. I hope the guys here can also confirm that, and that I try to do my best.”

An American in France

What’s it like to be an American cyclist living in France? Watch to get professional road cyclist Joe Dombrowski’s view.