Dumoulin annulled his Team Sunweb contract with two years remaining, opening the door for his high-profile move to Jumbo-Visma. His new team already counts two GC leaders with Steven Kruijswijk, third in the 2019 Tour de France and Primoz Roglic, the recent Vuelta a España winner.
Dumoulin thinks there’s strength in numbers, and is energized about his first career team swap.
“I’m excited ahead of the move. I think we can really strengthen each other,” Dumoulin told EuroSport.
“I also don’t want to be the only leader in the team. So we are going to divide it and then we will see who is the best,” he continued. “I also do not want the entire team to ride for me and I end up sixth. At that point, I’d rather ride for someone else who can win. I think that can be very smart.”
The comments come as the first real look inside Dumoulin’s motivation and reasons for leaving Sunweb, where he turned pro in 2012. Dumoulin won the 2017 Giro d’Italia and race to second behind Chris Froome in the 2018, before finishing second behind Geraint Thomas in the Tour de France.
Those results confirmed his GC status as a rider who could take on Team Sky/Ineos, and win big races. Yet things went dark this season, exacerbating Dumoulin’s itch for a change in scenery.
He injured his knee in a crash in the 2019 and was sidelined for much of the season. He returned to race the Critérium du Dauphiné, but soon after, the Dumoulin/Sunweb train that had been rolling for eight years derailed.
Rumors surfaced that Dumoulin wanted out of his contract that ran through 2021. Also, Dutch super team Jumbo-Visma was said to have its eyes on Dumoulin if he could free himself. As the Tour de France unfolded, Kruijswijk raced to third place behind Egan Bernal, Dumoulin spoke with Sunweb team boss Iwan Spekenbrink.
Dumoulin admitted it wasn’t an easy conversation.
“I thought that it had been a while since I had the feeling [of wanting to leave]. Everything was on the rise, and I had a successful year in 2017. Then I thought, ‘What do I want in the coming years?'” he said. “I had been doing that for a while, but I had a long-term contract. I tried to complete it, but doing so was not going to benefit either of us.
“Can we solve it? And how? Iwan had a dream to work towards something with me and then I went to say that I’m in doubt,” Dumoulin said. “That is very annoying to say. I was convinced that it would also be possible with Team Sunweb, but the feeling was no longer right. I also went to Iwan dragging my heels.
“Iwan and I were out to find a good situation for the both of us,” he said. “Then Jumbo-Visma came along and that was the time when I was looking for a team.”
Dumoulin admit’s it tough not to be racing with the Dutch national team at the world championships this week in Yorkshire. Two years ago in Bergen, he won the time trial title.
“I don’t know Mathieu [van der Peol] very well, but I thought it would be really cool to ride for him [in the road race],” Dumoulin said.
“I could have first kept things together and then he could do his thing. But if he does the right things, everything will be fine even without me.”
The 28-year-old has not raced since June 14. With no event on his schedule for 2019, his next race could be in the yellow colors of Jumbo-Visma in 2020. He signed a three-year deal that runs through 2022.
He underwent two surgeries on his left knee after the Giro crash. Following the second one at the end of July, he began swimming and in the last two weeks, riding his bike. In a recent update, he wrote, “The doctors have no doubt my knee will not hold me back from coming back to my normal level. It will just take time.”