Dumoulin unlikely to return to racing in 2019

Coach says time off 'will only increase his hunger for success'

After sitting out the Tour de France to a knee injury, it appears unlikely that Tom Dumoulin will see any more racing action this season.

The Sunweb rider was forced to abandon the Giro d'Italia with knee pain and then returned to race the Critérium du Dauphiné despite knowing there was a small piece of road debris in his knee causing irritation. He abandoned the race after stage 6 and underwent surgery three weeks before the Tour de France. He was still having pain after the procedure and abandoned plans for an altitude camp and then ruled out racing at the Tour. An MRI scan on July 3 showed there was a tear in the tendon in his left knee that necessitated total rest.

According to De Telegraaf, Dumoulin has returned to riding, but is unable to put full power into his left leg, so the Vuelta a España and even the world championships in Yorkshire, in the UK, are out of the question. That leaves only a few smaller races at the end of the season.

The Vuelta comes too soon in his rehabilitation, and without proper preparation for the Worlds, the Dutch national team coach Koos Moerenhout says that "it makes no sense to talk to him about the world championships".

Meanwhile, Dumoulin's coach Hendrik Werner discounts the impact the time off will have on the rider's future: "The most important thing is that his knee recovers completely again. Tom knows what to do to start a Grand Tour in top form. Furthermore, he also has the experience of racing a Grand Tour at the top of the leaderboard. So it is not as if he has missed classes in school. This long period of rest will only increase his hunger for success.

"He now knows what it is to be on the sidelines during the main period of the season. Just think how he will want revenge once his knee is 100 per cent in order again. And then he will be fresh at the start both physically and mentally," said Werner.

As has been the case since news broke of a falling out between Dumoulin and Team Sunweb, and rumours of an attempt to move across to the rival team Jumbo-Visma, Dumoulin's coach would not comment on the possible transfer. Dumoulin is under contract until the end of 2021 with Team Sunweb, and would have to negotiate his exit from the team.

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