Sunweb boss says team made 'no mistakes' treating Tom Dumoulin's knee injury

After a frustrating 2019 season, the Dutchman's contract with the German team was terminated and he signed with Jumbo-Visma

Jumbo-Visma 2020 team presentation (Vincent Jannink/ANP/AFP via Getty Images)
(Image credit: ANP/AFP via Getty Images)

Sunweb boss Iwan Spekenbrink has defended his team over the departure of Tom Dumoulin to Jumbo-Visma, saying no mistakes were made in treating his knee injury last year.

Spekenbrink says the best way to treat the injury would have been rest but that they were working with Dumoulin to realise his ambition of racing in the 2019 Tour de France, which always carried the risk of further aggravating his knee.

"No [there were no mistakes made], and Tom will say that too. He fell in the Giro last year and his knee was damaged there," Spekenbrink told De Telegraaf.

"What happens then is that he is super driven and ambitious to make the Tour, just like we are with the team. The best way to get that knee healed is rest, but if you want to appear in the Tour as in-form as possible, you have to burden that joint.

>>> Dutch anti-doping boss says he’s ‘uncomfortable’ with use of ketones in Jumbo-Visma

"Go find that balance. Everyone wanted to make that attempt to participate, there is nothing wrong with that."

Dumoulin's knee injury at the Giro d'Italia saw the 29-year-old subsequently miss the Tour de France, Vuelta a España and the UCI Road World Championships in Yorkshire.

The culmination of a frustrating season saw Dumoulin leave Sunweb for Jumbo-Visma, with his contract eventually being terminated by mutual consent, a method the German team has described as "unique" in cycling.

Explaining the decision, Spekenbrink said: "If an athlete has less commitment, it also means that he performs less. Then both of you are no longer moving forward and therefore it was easier to let Tom go."

Maintaining that no mistakes were made with the handling of Dumoulin during his time off the bike, Spekenbrink instead says there were "points for improvement", particularly in the decision to back their rider to recover in time to make the start line for the Tour de France.

"If you look at points for improvement, there are some, because luckily we all make mistakes. We are very self-critical and we also learn from this," Spekenbrink said.

"But at such a moment you have to deal with a person and athlete who has worked all year round and has experienced a huge disappointment. As a team, we also have that drive and want to continue. We all said, 'let's go for it'. In retrospect, we should have decided earlier that the Tour was not feasible."

After crashing out of the Giro d'Italia, Dumoulin attempted to prepare for the Tour at the Critérium du Dauphiné but also abandoned that race to try and avoid further aggravating his knee. Then, after further minor surgery, Dumoulin was on his way to an altitude training camp in the Alps before turning the car around en route, deciding he didn't feel good enough. The news he wouldn't race the Tour de France broke soon after.

In his season for Jumbo-Visma Dumoulin will target the Tokyo Olympics and Tour de France, lining up as one of three potential team leaders at the French Grand Tour alongside Primož Roglič and Steven Kruijswijk.

Meanwhile, Sunweb are looking to move on with Michael Matthews and new signing Tiesj Benoot targeting the spring Classics and Wilco Kelderman and Sam Oomen their hopes for the Grand Tours.

Thank you for reading 20 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

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.