Tom Dumoulin says he may turn his attention once more to the general classification of the Grand Tours, after taking a break from racing, but that he could also focus on other goals or retire as a rider altogether.
"The problem over the last three years was that I lost the pleasure in the job and racing. I had forgotten what I liked and didn't like," Dumoulin told Belgian newspaper Het Nieuwsblad before the start of the Tour de Suisse, where he is making his return to cycling.
"Now I know that again. This period without racing taught me a lot. I know again what kind of rider Tom Dumoulin is. What follows after Tokyo I don't know yet. Maybe it will be chasing classifications in Grand Tours again. Maybe I want to set other goals, or maybe I don't want to be a rider at all anymore."
Dumoulin won't be targeting the GC in Switzerland but does have an eye on the two time trials as he looks to build towards the time trial event at the Tokyo Olympics.
"These time trials will make me a bit wiser. Although you can't compare these time trials with the ones in Tokyo, that doesn't really matter, I see these time trials more as a test to realise what I need to work on," Dumoulin said.
"I am not here to kill myself, but to have a good week of racing in the legs. You shouldn't forget that I have only trained for a month."
"Although I have to say that I was shocked when I got back on my bike for the first time after a few months of no training. After two weeks, I did a test and was surprised by the result. The talent has certainly not disappeared. That is also the reason why I have made the Tokyo Olympics a goal."
As for the struggles with his mental health, Dumoulin has little advice for other athletes going through the same thing, although feels taking his break was definitely the correct decision.
"Of course I am not alone. There are many top athletes and certainly also non-top athletes who struggle with themselves, but I don't want to present myself as a role model.
"I have no advice for others. Each person can figure that out for themselves. During the training camp in Livigno, I certainly found the love of cycling again. I was in a deep place before. Besides the mental difficulties I was so overtrained that I was not healthy either. As soon as I took some rest, I felt better. When I got back on the bike, I felt that as a rider I was not ready yet – I still have that feeling now."
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