If online racing is the future of pro cycling, Tom Dumoulin will be wanting to stay in the dark ages.
“I understand why [online racing] exists and it is better than nothing, but it is not close to reality,” Dumoulin said last week. “The results are not to be trusted either — they say nothing.”
Since the coronavirus put a stop on the early season race calendar and forced riders across the globe to train inside, there has been a surge in online races for the pros, including the Virtual Tour of Flanders and last week, the Digital Swiss 5 stage race.
With riders using a range of trainers from the likes of Wahoo, Tacx, and Elite, Dumoulin feels that the raw data used to inform race positions in inconsistent and unreliable.
“Wout van Aert is truly the king of pedaling power and finished tenth in the virtual Tour of Flanders,” Dumoulin told De Limburger. “The devices come from different brands and are not properly calibrated, which is essential. Weight to be recorded must be exactly correct, otherwise it will be unfair.”
Dumoulin sat out the Jumbo-Visma intra-team race last weekend, won by young Colaradan Sepp Kuss. The former Giro d’Italia champion did participate in the online Amstel Gold social ride however.
“I participated in the virtual Gold Race with an average power of 250 watts,” he said. “Most riders can’t keep up with that pace, but I never overtook anyone. I’m afraid the watt problem will last forever.”
Dumoulin will be pinning all his hopes on the Tour de France going ahead as planned August 29, where he can see how his watts stack up against the rest in real life. Dumoulin’s Jumbo-Visma team is planning on sending a strong leadership trio to the race, consisting of Dumoulin, Primoz Roglic, and Steven Kruiswijk. Although the Tour is now on the horizon, Dumoulin isn’t rushing his training.
“At the moment I am not trying to ride my bike every day with a specific purpose in mind,” he told Dutch television program L1. “I am trying to stay fit and set a daily goal. I have put together a type of training program, but it is limited and not necessarily with the idea that the Tour will come soon because we just don’t know if it will happen. If I believe in virologists, I don’t give it much chance.”