Tom Dumoulin has decided to hit the pause button on his race career and has left the Jumbo-Visma training camp with immediate effect. The news was announced on Saturday with Jumbo-Visma confirming that the Dutchman would not race for the time being.
Dumoulin has officially taken unpaid leave while he considers his future and whether or not he wants to return to the sport. On Friday, the team had announced that Dumoulin would be given a leadership role at the Tour de France alongside Primož Roglič but that now looks in major doubt following today's shock news.
"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," Dumoulin said in a statement released by his team.
"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.
The 2017 Giro d'Italia winner moved to Jumbo-Visma at the start of 2020 after a difficult final year at Team Sunweb. He came back from a serious knee injury that wrecked his 2019 campaign and supported Roglič to second place overall in last year's Tour de France. The 30-year-old finished seventh overall in Paris, and although he pulled out of the Vuelta a España later in the season, it looked as though he was beginning to find some of his best form.
Last week, the Dutchman told Wielerflits that he was also eyeing up the cobbled classics for the first time and that he was excited to go into the new season with a fresh set of goals.
“For this spring we have decided to change course. We’re going to ride the cobbles, which will be fun," he told the Dutch publication.
“I think the spring is always a very nice period. Everybody is eager, including myself, to get started again. I must admit that in terms of results it has never been my best period. This will be my tenth year as a professional cyclist and I have actually never really shone in spring. I hope and think every year that this year it will work. I am fully going for it again.”
However, he had also revealed that he came close to stopping his racing career after last year's Tour de France.
"I have had a terrible time after my knee injury. Then on top of that came the intestinal complaints in the spring and then corona. I can say that I was closer to stopping than to continue.”
The news of his departure from the team training camp leaves Jumbo-Visma facing a number of major questions, not least what happens with their Tour roster given that just 24-hours ago Dumoulin was given a co-leadership role within the squad.
The team's first priority, understandably, is now based around Dumoulin's well-being as a person rather than his athletic achievements but this will no doubt come as a shock to the rest of his teammates.
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