Retired pro Marcel Kittel has shared his support for former team-mate Tom Dumoulin, who announced he will be taking an indefinite break from professional cycling.
Kittel similarly decided to take a break from racing nearly two years ago, quitting Katusha-Alpecin in May 2019 citing exhaustion. In August he subsequently announced his retirement, and since then has been vocal about the extreme pressures endured by riders.
"I've always admired Tom Dumoulin for his strength. On the bike when were team-mates and won Tour de France stages together and off the bike for his clear opinion and honest critique," Kittel said, posting on Instagram.
Kittel says he can relate to Dumoulin's situation, and rather than wish him a speedy return to the sport, only hopes that the Dutchman can find the answers he needs.
"Of course, it's sad to see him taking a time out from cycling now, but he is also staying true to himself to take the time he needs to figure out what who he is and what he wants.
"I know from personal experience how it feels and how difficult it can be when you're doubting what you do and you want to look beyond your current life and identity. Only time will give you the answers and I hope for Tom that he'll find them soon.
"Until then I wish him the same strength that he's also got on the bike for this part of his career and everyone else who is in the same situation and trying to learn more about his or her own identity.
"I know that it's a big journey with an uncertain destination but also a very important life lesson once you find that inner compass again, recalibrate and head into this future direction."
Dutch former pro Michael Boogerd also said he can understand Dumoulin's decision.
"I have seen it myself. The pressure, the expectations. I struggled with that too," he told AD.
"People said to me: just look what you have. Healthy children, a beautiful woman, a generous salary, two big cars at the door. But it's not that simple, is it? From that perspective, I have respect for the choice Tom is now making.
"Of course, you have seen for a while that he is not feeling well. He's throwing millions aside. That isn't nothing. I think it's a brave decision.
"Between 2015 and 2018 he was on top of the world with a world title time trial and the win in the Giro. That is really amazing. After that, it went less good for him. If it goes well, all those opinions and reactions are nice. When things go wrong, it all becomes a lot more difficult. That's why I don't envy him right now."
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