Team Sunweb and Tom Dumoulin have ended their contract agreement two years early.
He will sign for Jumbo-Visma ahead of the 2020 season, the Dutch team have confirmed, after telling Sunweb he wanted a change of environment.
The 28-year-old Dutchman raced to second place behind Chris Froome (Ineos) in the 2018 Giro before going on to his second place in the Tour behind Geraint Thomas (Ineos). He is due to join top Dutch WorldTour team Jumbo-Visma in the coming days.
“As a rider you always search for the highest level achievable and you constantly ask yourself whether you are still in the right place, what is the best team for you and where the best options and opportunities are,” said Dumoulin.
“There has always been interest from other teams, that’s normal, but the facilities here have always made me not to speak with other teams. After the disappointment of missing the Tour and finding myself sitting at home, I started to consider that a new environment could be refreshing. That’s why I decided to focus on the interest of some teams. There were great offers and this phase of my career felt like the right time to take it.”
Dumoulin abandoned the Giro d’Italia in May this year following a crash. He raced towards Tour fitness, taking part in the Critérium du Dauphiné, but pulled the plug on his participation at the last minute as his knee problems continued.
The Dutchman’s departure ends an eight-year run with the team, which from 2012 transformed from Argos-Shimano to Giant-Alpecin to Sunweb. In that time, Dumoulin won the Giro d’Italia, nearly won a Vuelta a España, won stages in the Giro, Tour and Vuelta, and took the gold medal in the 2018 world championship time trial.
“It really does hurt to leave. My heart is here and together we have achieved great things that I’m very proud of. I’ve proven with Team Sunweb that winning a Grand Tour is possible with this team and I have no doubt that I could do it again with them.
“I know that the grass will not always be greener than at Team Sunweb and I want to emphasise that without them, I could never have got to where I am today,” Dumoulin said.
“I will always remain grateful for the opportunities that I have had, and the opportunity that the team now grants me to allow me to explore my options with a new team.”
Team Sunweb CEO Iwan Spekenbrink said: “It’s been a difficult year for Tom with the setbacks he has experienced and it’s normal for any person at this age to take a step back and reassess their situation.
“Tom opened up to thoughts that a new environment could be refreshing and we decided to respect his request and co-operate to make a move possible.
“Tom means a lot to the organisation, and the organisation means a lot to him; we achieved a lot together. We’re of course sad to see him leave, but in the end that’s top sports, athletes go and next generation promising athletes come.”
Without Dumoulin, the team continues to count on starts like Wilco Kelderman, starting the Vuelta on Saturday, as well as Michael Matthews.
Dumoulin had a contract that ran through to 2021. However, he was said to be unhappy with materials at the start of 2018 when he was time trial world champion and not pleased with the hiring of support riders, or lack of them, last winter.
According to sources, Jumbo-Visma will pay Dumoulin an estimated €2.5m a year, just shy of Geraint Thomas’s €3.9m (£3.5m) at Team Ineos. This is an increase of the €1.5m the Dutchman currently earns.