Tom Dumoulin has expanded on his reasons to take a step back from cycling and consider his future.
The Dutchman says he needs time to get things clear in his head, and that for too long he's felt pressure to perform, with Jumbo-Visma team-mate Wout van Aert saying the decision isn't as big of a surprise to him as it has been to the outside world.
"The team and I decided yesterday that I will take a leave of absence with an unknown time frame from our beautiful sport. For too long I've felt a big pressure to perform and I feel that I always want to do the best for the team, for all the sponsors, the fans," Dumoulin said on Twitter (opens in new tab).
"But in that process, I forgot myself a bit. I forgot what I actually want within this sport and for my future. Because I don’t have this answer clear for myself, I’m actually also not doing the best for the people around me.
"I really need the time to get things clear in my head about what I want and how I want it. It feels really good to take this step and I feel greatly supported by my friends and family and the team to take this step. Taking the decision immediately felt like a big weight off my shoulders. I’m going to do a lot of thinking and talking to a lot of people and I’m very confident that I will find the answers in the coming period."
Van Aert added that he'd noticed his team-mate struggling for a while, and that he hopes Dumoulin will want to come back to the sport.
"Perhaps it is less surprising for me than for the outside world. Tom has had a difficult time and has been out for a while. In the team we noticed that he had his ups and downs," Van Aert said after racing Flandriencross where he finished second behind Mathieu van der Poel.
"I hope for him that this is a decision to [eventually] come back stronger. It is a difficult question whether I can understand his quitting, because I feel good about myself. I like to cycle, so it is difficult for me to understand that someone is losing their pleasure. Everyone has difficult times. We must respect that. I hope for him that this is not the end anyway."
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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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