Tom Dumoulin has decided to take a break from professional cycling.
The 30-year-old told Jumbo-Visma management at the team's training camp in Alicante, Spain, last night, and will take unpaid leave for an indefinite period.
According to De Limburger (opens in new tab), the Dutchman has been unhappy as a cyclist for a year and wants to take time out to think about his future and whether he wants to continue his career as a professional cyclist.
This decision comes as a surprise, with Dumoulin saying in a released interview at the training camp this week that he was looking forward to returning to the cobbled Classics this coming season.
"I have felt for quite some time, months, maybe even a year actually, that it is very difficult for me to know how to find my way as Tom Dumoulin the cyclist," Dumoulin said in a video posted by his Jumbo-Visma team. "With the pressure that comes with it, the expectations of different parties. I really want to do very well for a lot of people, but that has made me forget myself a little in the past year.
"What do I really want, what does man Tom Dumoulin want with his life at the moment? That is a question that has been bubbling up deep down for a few months and I actually don't have the time to answer that question.
"But that question is there and I didn't always get the time to actually answer that question. What do I want? Do I still want to be a cyclist? If so, how? If I want to win the Tour, how do I want to get there? And now I have the feeling that I don't know anymore and that I keep putting those questions to others to do it well for everyone. But that does not bring the result and that does not bring my happiness in the first place. So it just slowly made me unhappy. That's just a shame. So that's why I will take a break and who knows where it will lead."
Dumoulin says the team supports him in this decision and that taking a step pack feels like "his backpack has lost 100 kilos".
"I'm going to think a lot, take the dog for walks and look for: what do I want as a person with the bike? What do I want with my life? I made the decision yesterday. The team supports me in this and it feels good. It feels like a backpack has lost 100 kilos. I immediately woke up happily. It feels so good that I finally made the decision to take some time for myself," he said.
"But I have been attracted to everything about that for too long, what people think about it. It is about time that I got what I want for myself. You know, in the end, all those people, and the people in the team, my team-mates and especially myself, don't benefit at all if I keep muddling around now and then finally finish twelfth in the Tour, then fifth in the Olympics. That is of no use to us either. I have been muddling around for too long with those doubts in the back of my mind."
“A few years ago I achieved very good results and I became 'Tom Dumoulin, the great Dutch cyclist' once and for all. People have a lot of expectations for that. As a top athlete, your own expectations are already very difficult to manage. Then you can say 'Hey, just put it aside, what have they got to do with it', but in the end, I found that more difficult than I expected. Maybe I still want to be a cyclist, but then it is important that I don't care as much about what other people think about it."
After a difficult final 2019 season with Sunweb, where injury forced him to abandon the Giro d'Italia and subsequently miss the Tour de France, Vuelta a España and World Road Championships, Dumoulin transferred to Jumbo-Visma.
In his first season with the Dutch team, Dumoulin rode to seventh overall at the Tour de France, having given up on his own GC ambitions halfway through the race and riding in support of Primož Roglič. Dumoulin finished second behind Tadej Pogačar on the stage 20 time trial where his team-mate lost the yellow jersey to the younger Slovenian.
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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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