Tom Dumoulin is back to winning ways and is 'comfortable in his own skin again' after taking the Dutch national time trial title for a record-equaling fourth time in his career.
The Jumbo-Visma rider seemed over the moon with the win as it is the first victory since coming back from a career break to deal with mental health issues.
Dumoulin took the win by 27 seconds over Sebastian Langeveld (EF Education-Nippo) with climber Koen Bouwman (Jumbo-Visma) in third at 1-24.
Reigning champion, Jos van Emden (Jumbo-Visma) was not able to race due to the injuries he sustained in a nasty crash at the Giro d'Italia earlier this year.
The race did not take place in 2020, much like many other National Championships. It came back this year with two laps around a course of 14.8km, making the entire route 29.6km in total in the town of Essen.
After the race, Dumoulin said: "This is just really beautiful. Winning is winning. Now I can ride around in a nice jersey for a year. Maybe in 2017 or 2018, it would have affected me less, but now it affects me a lot."
Dumoulin returned to racing at the Tour de Suisse a week ago where he put in some very solid displays including a fifth place on the mountainous time trial on stage seven.
It was his first race back since deciding to rejoin his team after taking a break out of the sport to focus on his mental health. He reflected on his time out of the sport in his interview, saying before his break he felt 'overtrained'.
"Since the beginning of May, I started training seriously again," Dumoulin said.
"Since then it has only gone in the right direction – also some lesser days and periods, but mainly better. Certainly, in Switzerland, things got better every day. That I'm recovering well is perhaps the best thing of all. Last year and early this year when I stopped, I was just overtrained and just didn't recover."
"The fact that you no longer know your own body is a very bad feeling. That your body no longer responds to training, as you are used to. The rest period has done me a lot of good. It's great that it's already yielding results. I'm very happy with that,"
All of this will give him a stack load more confidence as he heads towards his main season goal, the Olympic Games time trial gold medal. He was originally set to return to the Tour de France but he and the team changed plans and have now put all their focus on the Games. Dumoulin wanted to thank everyone for sticking by him.
"I would also like to thank the people around me and the team. They gave me time in February, March and April, which really did me a lot of good. I hope I have become a much nicer rider. And whether or not that will yield results in the coming period, may not even be the most important thing. I'm comfortable in my own skin and… beautiful."
It is not known if Dumoulin will race again before the Olympics, perhaps the Dutch road race on the weekend, but otherwise it is unclear.
The Tokyo Olympics begins on July 23 with the time trial taking place on July 28 around a 22.1km circuit at the Fuji Kokusai golf club next to Mount Fuji.
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