Ordinarily, finishing outside the top-10 in a major time trial would be a disappointment for Tom Dumoulin, but the Dutchman was simply happy to have a number on his back on the opening day of the Tour de Suisse.
Sunday's race against the clock marked Dumoulin's return to action after a five-month career hiatus, during which he considered his future as a professional cyclist.
The former world champion clocked 12:32 on the flat 10.9km course in Frauenfeld, putting him 16th on the stage, 32 seconds behind the winning time of Stefan Küng (Groupama-FDJ).
"I tried to go full out and it went pretty well. I noticed that in the second part of the time trial I didn’t have the power anymore. As a result, my pace went down a little bit. That is not very strange and of course you can expect that," Dumoulin said.
"It took some getting used to, but the feeling was definitely good. I always want to get everything out of myself. That is what I did again today. I’m satisfied, although I still see plenty of growth opportunities."
Dumoulin's return to competition has been motivated in part by the Olympic Games later this summer. He will race his national championships later this month in a bid to secure one of the Dutch spots for the time trial and road race in Tokyo, but racing the Tour de Suisse for his trade team is all about getting back into the swing of things.
"I think it’s great to be back," he said. "It felt very good to race. I came to Switzerland without expectations. I just hope to improve here in the coming weeks and build a good base. I still have plenty of steps to take in the coming time."
Dumoulin will have seven more days of racing in his legs by the time the Tour de Suisse wraps up on Sunday. Moderately hilly stages dominate the first half of the race before the mountains become bigger and higher towards the end. There's also a second time trial in the form of a mountain test that goes up and down the Oberalp Pass.
"It’s very nice that Tom is back in the race. Today’s time trial was a first measuring point to see where he would stand. This is a start we can build on," said Jumbo-Visma sports director Frans Maassen.
"We are also going to see how he is going to get through the coming week. There is a lot of climbing this week. We want to help our man for the GC, Sam Oomen. Maybe there will also be some opportunities for other guys to go for stage wins."
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Deputy Editor - Europe. Patrick is an NCTJ-trained journalist who has seven years’ experience covering professional cycling. He has a modern languages degree from Durham University and has been able to put it to some use in what is a multi-lingual sport, with a particular focus on French and Spanish-speaking riders. After joining Cyclingnews as a staff writer on the back of work experience, Patrick became Features Editor in 2018 and oversaw significant growth in the site’s long-form and in-depth output. Since 2021 he has been Deputy Editor - Europe, taking more responsibility for the site’s content as a whole, while still writing and - despite a pandemic-induced hiatus - travelling to races around the world. Away from cycling, Patrick spends most of his time playing or watching other forms of sport - football, tennis, trail running, darts, to name a few, but he draws the line at rugby.
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