Tom Dumoulin made a rare public appearance at Amstel Gold Race on Sunday, turning up at the start and then watching the race as the peloton climbed the Cauberg with around 60km to go. The Dutchman, who lives close to the race, hasn't competed all year after taking an indefinite break from racing.
In January, Dumoulin was initially listed as part of Jumbo-Visma's eight-man Tour de France team but within just a few days of the news the former Giro d'Italia winner announced that he would take a leave of unpaid absence due to pressures and stresses related to his life as a pro cyclist.
Jumbo-Visma stood by Dumoulin and have continued to support their rider throughout the last few months. At the time of his announcement Dumoulin made a statement released by his team: "I took the decision yesterday. And the team supports me in it, and it feels really good. It is really as if a backpack of a hundred kilos has slipped off my shoulders. I immediately woke up happy."
"It feels so good that I finally took the decision to take some time for myself. That says enough. I have been feeling for quite a while that it is very difficult for me to know how to find my way as Tom Dumoulin the cyclist - with the pressure that comes with it, with the expectations of different parties.
"I just want to do very well for very many people. I want the team to be happy with me. I want the sponsors to be happy. I want my wife and my family to be happy. And so I want to do well for everyone, but because of that I have forgotten myself a bit in the past year. What do I want? Do I still want to be a rider. And how?" he added.
Dumoulin has been spotted out training in recent weeks. He has been on his time trial bike and been seen wearing a Jumbo-Visma kit but there has been no news in relation to a possible comeback date. The sight of him appearing at a race, even in a casual capacity, will be welcomed by many.
Team Director Merijn Zeeman, stressed at the time of Dumoulin's decision to step away the rider's mental health and wellbeing was a priority for the squad's management.
“Tom is a fantastic rider. But in the end, is it Team Jumbo-Visma. We have a group of 27 riders, of which Tom, unfortunately, is not part of the team for the time being. There are also riders who will seize the opportunity. Spots become available in beautiful races. We will now start to think about that.
"We still have a very strong team. And Tom being happy, who feels good about himself, who wants nothing more than to be a top athlete, is of course a great rider for Team Jumbo-Visma. But if Tom doesn’t feel happy and doesn’t want to do this, it automatically means it’s not good for the team either. We both came to that conclusion. With an understanding for each other. And now we’re moving on.”
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