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No pressure, high anticipation for Tom Dumoulin comeback season: ‘Everything is possible’

Jumbo-Visma rules nothing out for Dumoulin's return to Giro d'Italia, says Tour de France start unlikely but not impossible.

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Jumbo-Visma is expecting nothing from Tom Dumoulin in his comeback season. But it’s not ruling anything out, either.

Dumoulin pedals into his first full year in the peloton since his six-month sabbatical with a mouth-watering return to the Giro d’Italia at the top of his hit-list this May.

The 2017 pink jersey could go far in his return to the race that punched him high up the GC hierarchy late last decade.

And if he doesn’t? “No big deal,” says Jumbo-Visma.

“There’s no pressure on Tom from our side except that we strive for perfect preparation, and that he starts the Giro in shape and willing to do his best. Then we’ll see what results we get,” team sport director Grischa Niermann told VeloNews.

“But we know what Tom is capable of, and we see he is doing very good. Everything is possible for him at the Giro.”

Dumoulin ducked out of the early season in 2021 as he searched for his stuttering mojo. One year after pressing pause, he’s back, busting for racing, and heading back to the race that’s the prize of his palmarès.

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“I am aiming for GC again,” Dumoulin told the media of his Giro ambitions. “It’s been a few years ago since I’ve done GC in grand tours. I think I still have it in me.”

An off-season revving his massive motor in the high mountains of Colombia has set up Dumoulin for a run through the UAE Tour and Ardennes. From there, Richard Carapaz, Simon Yates, and João Almeida lie in wait at the Giro’s Hungarian start.

Jumbo-Visma isn’t laying too much on the Dutchman’s broad shoulders, mindful of the burnout that saw him exit the peloton for some six months in 2021.  Co-leadership with rising teammate Tobias Foss and an open playbook will tamp down the pressure of his much-anticipated return to the corsa rosa.

“The race hasn’t started yet, and everybody starts from scratch. Everybody can win the Giro who is on the startline,” Niermann said in a call earlier this month.

“With Tom, I think for both him and us, the expectation is not that ‘now you’re going to the Giro, you have to be the favorite, you have to win this race.’ If he can do a good GC and whatever that is, top-10 for example, we will be happy and it’s a step in the right direction. The most important thing is that he’s happy again on the bike and that he wants to race and wants to compete.”

Tour de France return unlikely but not impossible in 2022

With Dumoulin and Foss racing in Italy, Jumbo-Visma is planning to send Primož Roglič, Jonas Vingegaard, Sepp Kuss and Wout van Aert to the Tour de France.

Dumoulin isn’t in the team’s yellow jersey masterplan, and it’s looking likely to stay that way. But just like anything is possible at the Giro, Dumoulin could still make a return to the race where he finished second on the podium in 2018.

“At the moment the concentration is on the Giro and then afterward we might see about the Tour,” Niermann said.

“But I don’t think it would be a good idea to start with the goal of going to the Giro and him having in the back of his head that afterward he has to go to the tour and has to be in shape again. I think that’s off the cards for the moment. Also, it wouldn’t be the right approach if you want to compete well in the Giro.”

Dumoulin could bring fireworks into 2022. But if it’s just a sparkler, that’s fine too.