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Intermarché boss: Door remains open for Tom Dumoulin, there was interest in Mark Cavendish

'To be honest when Cavendish was on the market with us we were still very much busy with Kristoff,' says Visbeek.

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Intermarché – Wanty – Gobert Matériaux general manager Aike Visbeek has told VeloNews that the door remains open for Tom Dumoulin, should the recently retired rider decide on returning to the sport in a management capacity.

Visbeek has also disclosed that he and his team looked into signing another world-class sprinter for 2023 with both Tim Merlier and Mark Cavendish at one point on the team’s radar. The team would eventually miss out on both riders and sign a raft of new recruits including Mike Teunissen and former world champion Rui Costa.

Dumoulin decided to hang up his wheels this season after a long and successful career on the road. Since the start of 2021, he has taken a break from the pro scene in order to concentrate on his well-being and mental health, and in August he decided to retire at the age of 31.

Also read: Commentary: The peloton is a poorer place without Tom Dumoulin to light up the roadway

Dumoulin and Visbeek know each other well from their Sunweb days and the Intermarché boss has been a long-time admirer of the Dutch rider. He made no secret of his hopes of signing Dumoulin to the team’s management but those plans are on ice for the time being as the former rider takes his time to decide on his next move.

“I’m still in contact with Tom and that’s normal because we know each other well. For now, he’s taking the time to figure out what he wants to do. He knows that we’re interested in his knowledge but first he is taking his time to zone out and see what he wants to do with his life. That’s where the situation is for now. He needs to make his own decisions first,” Visbeek told VeloNews.

Visbeek wants to see if Dumoulin has the motivation and passion to return to the sport in a management or coaching capacity before taking any future steps.

“I think it would be a good fit but he would be a good fit for a lot of teams. If I look at my organization the people really want to do this job, they really burn with a passion and burst with energy. You want to see that with Tom if he considers coaching or is part of a team,” Visbeek said.

“Obviously, he’s coming out of an intense season and, first of all, he needs to land and regain his energy. He’s not there yet. That’s the main thing that you want to look at when you talk to him. You want to see that the fire is burning. He likes cycling, and it has brought him a lot, but he’s been living an intense life. So it’s important that he gets some distance. The door absolutely remains open.”

Intermarché had an incredible 2022 with 24 wins and stage victories in both the Giro d’Italia and the Vuelta a España. Biniam Girmay was a revelation with a Giro stage win and victory in Gent-Wevelgem during the spring. The team secured top-10 overall finishes in several major stage races, and a mix of youth and experience has been added for next season.

With Alexander Kristoff leaving at the end of this year, the team had shown interest in signing a top-level sprinter with both Merlier and Cavendish on the squad’s radar. Merlier would eventually head to Quick-Step, while Cavendish has signed for another team but has to announce his plans.

Visbeek told VeloNews that Cavendish had been a consideration but that they only had the capacity and space to sign him after he had already been taken off the market.

“We’ve been looking at bringing on a new sprinter. We talked with Merlier but not so much has happened. Cavendish was on the market and there were opportunities but we chose to bring on Arne Marit, and focus on Biniam Girmay and Madis Mihkels, who is also coming over to the team. It’s a young group of sprinters but to answer your question we were looking but we couldn’t bring on the big name,” Visbeek said.

“To be honest when Cavendish was on the market with us we were still very much busy with Kristoff. So by the time Alex decided he would move then Cavendish was no longer on the market, and we moved on to signing other riders.”