Tom Dumoulin has revealed that despite being a Grand Tour winner and counting two second places in three-week races, he has often struggled with the demands of being a team leader.
It is why the Dutchman is satisfied that Jumbo-Visma have selected both him and Tobias Foss as their leaders at May's Giro d'Italia, the race where Dumoulin will return to Grand Tour action after missing large parts of the 2021 season to determine if he still wanted to remain a cyclist.
The Italian race is the scene of the 31-year-old's greatest triumph when he won the maglia rosa in 2017, but in an honest assessment on his return to the first Grand Tour of the season, Dumoulin admitted that sharing responsibility with the 24-year-old Foss pleases him.
"That's very nice," he told his team's website. "I am not really an alpha male. I've struggled with having a whole crew revolve around me in the past.
"It's nicer that I can now share the leadership with Tobias in that respect. He is a very nice and suitable rider for that.
"I hope we can both reach a high level and in that case we can help each other in the finals."
Last January Dumoulin took an indefinite break from cycling to assess his life and motivation as a bike rider, concluding after a few months that he did still have the desire to remain a professional.
He returned at the Tour de Suisse and also rode the Olympic Games and the Benelux Tour, but the upcoming season will be the first time he has raced a packed program since the rescheduled calendar of the 2020 Covid-affected season.
"My cycling life looks very different now compared to a year ago," he said. "At that moment, I had to stop myself.
"In hindsight, I'm happy I did that at the time. I made a conscious choice to be a cyclist. It has its good sides but also it's downsides.
"I can live with that better now because I know this is what I really want. Now it's a new year with a new Tom Dumoulin.
"I am in a different place now. I feel really good and I'm looking forward to the coming year. I have a lot of ambitions."
Dumoulin will begin his season at the UAE Tour, before riding Strade Bianche, Volta a Catalunya and Amstel Gold Race ahead of a tilt at the Giro that he is confident of.
"For various reasons it has been a while since I rode for a classification," he assessed. "I don't think I have lost the touch. It is something I have always been naturally good at.
"The only downside is that there are perhaps too few time trial kilometres included in the course."
Thank you for reading 10 articles this month* Join now for unlimited access
Enjoy your first month for just £1 / $1 / €1
*Read 5 free articles per month without a subscription
Join now for unlimited access
Try first month for just £1 / $1 / €1
Chris first started writing for Cycling Weekly in 2013 on work experience and has since become a regular name in the magazine and on the website. Reporting from races, long interviews with riders from the peloton and riding features drive his love of writing about all things two wheels.
Probably a bit too obsessed with mountains, he was previously found playing and guiding in the Canadian Rockies, and now mostly lives in the Val d’Aran in the Spanish Pyrenees where he’s a ski instructor in the winter and cycling guide in the summer. He almost certainly holds the record for the most number of interviews conducted from snowy mountains.
A Call of a Life Time: YouTube docuseries chronicling the Life Time Grand Prix premiers tonight
The six-part series promises a 'binge-worthy' behind-the-scenes look into the off-road cycling world
By Anne-Marije Rook • Published
CW LIVE: 'UCI is a mafia': doper defends Nairo Quintana; Giro d'Italia cities see pink; Marianne Vos extends with Jumbo-Visma; Cam Mason's boxfresh champion's jersey; flying start for Saint Piran's Track Champs debut; Kobe Goossens wins Trofeo Andratx
Your daily dose of all the good stuff from the world of cycling
By James Shrubsall • Last updated
Changing of the guard: Seven top cyclists who have retired in 2022
Vincenzo Nibali, Alejandro Valverde and Tom Dumoulin have all called time on their careers this year
By Tom Thewlis • Published
Celebrating the career of Tom Dumoulin: our three favourite moments
The former Giro d’Italia winner announced his immediate retirement earlier this week
By Tom Thewlis • Published
Tom Dumoulin ends career with immediate effect
Dutch former Giro d’Italia winner brings forward retirement from professional cycling
By Tom Thewlis • Published
'Cycling required my blood, sweat and tears at times, but mostly it was beautiful' — Tom Dumoulin to retire at end of 2022 season
Tom Dumoulin has announced that he will retire this year, and take a take "new and unknown path" from next year
By Adam Becket • Published
Tom Dumoulin confirms he will ride for the overall at a Grand Tour in 2022
The former time trial world champion hasn't had a serious go at a Grand Tour since the 2018 Tour de France
By Tim Bonville-Ginn • Published
Tom Dumoulin doesn't rule out Grand Tour return in 2022
Dutchman will decide on his season at the Jumbo-Visma training camp in mid-December
By Ryan Dabbs • Published
Tom Dumoulin to Team BikeExchange for 2022?
L'Equipe reports Giant bikes could be instrumental in taking Dutch star from Jumbo-Visma
By Richard Windsor • Last updated
Tom Dumoulin still plans to continue cycling career next year
The Dutch star was knocked from his bike by a driver, which spoiled his World Championship ambitions
By Alex Ballinger • Published