There were tears for Tom Dumoulin after Rohan Dennis, Filippo Ganna and Stefan Küng all fell just short of his second-best time in the Tokyo Olympics time trial, the Dutchman capping off his recent return to racing with a silver medal.
“It was a difficult road to get here," Dumoulin said after the finish, having already raced the Tour de Suisse and national championships since returning to the sport after a break, with the Olympics the main goal he was focused on. "I was overtrained in the winter and done [with] cycling. But I decided to return, especially for this day. I had a goal and I'm proud."
Dumoulin's trade team, Jumbo-Visma, picked up gold and silver on the Fuji International Speedway circuit, as Slovenia's Primož Roglič also found redemption for his Tour de France disappointment by blowing away all of his rivals in the race against the clock.
“[My medal] has become silver, but definitely with a gold edge. Primož was from another planet today," Dumoulin said. "I know he's a special guy. And it's very nice to be on the podium. This is great for me."
The time trial event offered respite for Dutch cycling in Japan, their Games so far beset by miscommunication and crashes for various riders in different disciplines, with Van Vleuten taking gold in the women's event on top of Dumoulin's silver.
National coach Koos Moerenhout says Dumoulin is a unique rider and deserved the trust of the national federation to compete in Tokyo despite his lack of race days in 2021.
“You know he's been in deep and he's got the right line," Moerenhout said of his rider's performance. "But you can only go into this event with confidence, and with the class he has. He is unique and he deserved that trust. Then it's nice that it comes out. It is better than fourth or fifth, a very nice and deserved place.
“It was very exciting, in the car too,” he added. "You are stuck on your buttocks to see if he can keep it up. He did that wonderfully. He had to fight for it and showed that he really wanted it.”
Moerenhout explains Dumoulin used Tokyo to galvanise his career, and having achieved that, it will be exciting to see what the supremely talented 30-year-old does next.
"He didn't say much and neither did I," Moerenhout says of the reaction after silver was confirmed. “He realises like no other that it is about his life, about his career. He took a deep dive and chose Tokyo as a trigger to push that career forward. Then you hope for this.”
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Hi. I'm Cycling Weekly's Weekend Editor. I like writing offbeat features and eating too much bread when working out on the road at bike races.
Before joining Cycling Weekly I worked at The Tab and I've also written for Vice, Time Out, and worked freelance for The Telegraph (I know, but I needed the money at the time so let me live).
I also worked for ITV Cycling between 2011-2018 on their Tour de France and Vuelta a España coverage. Sometimes I'd be helping the producers make the programme and other times I'd be getting the lunches. Just in case you were wondering - Phil Liggett and Paul Sherwen had the same ham sandwich every day, it was great.
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