The victory was Dumoulin's first major win since the final time trial in the 2018 Tour de France, his first in Jumbo-Visma colours, and his first since he took a five-month break from the sport to concentrate on his physical and mental wellbeing.
The 30-year-old decided to take a leave of absence from the sport back in January, just days after being announced as part of Jumbo Visma’s Tour de France team, but he made a public appearance at Amstel Gold Race back in April and that gave him the confidence and the motivation to return to top-level sport.
He raced the Tour de Suisse earlier this month but arrived at the WorldTour event with little pressure on his shoulders. He worked for his teammates and eased himself back into competition with the national championships and the Olympic Games time trial in Tokyo his major short-term objectives.
On Wednesday he tasted victory in a major event for the first time in almost three years. While the former Giro d’Italia winner is understandably not yet at his imperious best, he believes that he is close and that day-by-day he’s becoming stronger and finding his rhythm.
"In the second part the heat started to play a role. My legs became slightly tired. It was hard work," he said after his win.
"But I have recovered well after a week of racing in Switzerland. I rode a very good time trial. If I had ridden this time trial a few years ago, I would have been very happy too. I am close to my good form. In Switzerland, it went a little bit better every day. I started to like racing more and more. I have continued that feeling. I am very happy with the title today. This is really a victory over myself."
Dumoulin’s next objective remains the Tokyo time trial, where he will look to match or better his performance from Rio in 2016 when he claimed silver behind Fabian Cancellara.
"It’s not easy to return to my old level, but gradually things are improving. These kilometres on the time trial bike are very important towards the Olympics. My base just needs to be a little more stable. I have every confidence that it will work out."
For now, however, Dumoulin wanted to bask in victory at his national championships. The win marked a key moment in his comeback and the importance of the title wasn’t lost on the rider.
"I am so happy with this victory. It had been a long time since I had won a race. Of the four time trial titles won at the Dutch championships, this one feels the most special. I can say that I am proud of myself.”
Beyond the Olympics, it’s not clear where Dumoulin will compete. Earlier this week his lead directeur sportif, Merijn Zeeman, all but ruled out a ride in the Vuelta a España and stressed that the team and Dumoulin were not looking too far down the road. The rider and the team will sit down after Tokyo and set new objectives for the latter part of the season.
"Right now it really depends on how this month goes. If I mention a certain race then things move in a certain direction and that’s really not the case. We need to see how he reflects on the last two months and that determines the next direction we’ll go in," Zeeman told Cyclingnews.
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Daniel Benson is the Editor in Chief at both Cyclingnews.com and BikePerfect.com. Based in the UK, he has worked within cycling for almost 15 years, and he joined the Cyclingnews team in 2008 as the site's first UK-based Managing Editor. In that time, he has reported on over a dozen editions of the Tour de France, several World Championships, the Tour Down Under, Spring Classics, and the London 2012 Olympic Games. With the help of the excellent editorial team, he runs the coverage on Cyclingnews and has interviewed leading figures in the sport including UCI Presidents and Tour de France winners.
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