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Tom Dumoulin has opened up about his struggles on and off the bike but stated that he will remain within the cycling community after hanging up his wheels this year.
The former Giro d’Italia winner took a break in 2021 and stepped away from competition for several months. He had signed for Jumbo-Visma at the start of 2020 and rode the Tour de France that year, finishing seventh in Paris.
During the following winter, he decided to take a break from professional riding and focus on his mental health and well-being. He returned to action later in the year and won a silver medal at the Olympics in the men’s time trial.
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His 2022 campaign saw him race 29 days in total before he brought forward his retirement plans and called time on his career ahead of the UCI Road World Championships in Australia. With his flights already booked, the Dutchman went to Australia to sample the atmosphere at the championships.
“I liked the atmosphere so much that I thought: this is my world. I’m not done with it,” Dumoulin told the Dutch outlet NRC.
“It feels like home. I still feel the love for the bike. Maybe one day I’ll be a coach, a consultant. But I will stay away from a professional team for a while.”
Dumoulin has been linked with a move to Intermarché with a possible spot on the coaching and management side. Such a switch is unlikely to happen in the next few months but the team told VeloNews in September that the door would remain open for the former rider should he find the necessary motivation to take on the challenge.
The 31-year-old also talked about the hardship and pressure he felt during the 2020 season.
“It was really, really awful. I hated cycling so much, and I hated being there so much,” he said.
When discussing the Tour de France, he added: “And still I was able to help the team and I finished seventh. Seventh! I really don’t understand how that is possible. And then you have to imagine that the world was able to watch during the most unfortunate period of my life.”
The next few months will see Dumoulin take a complete break from the world of cycling as he explores all his options and enjoys an off-season with no requirements or pressures when it comes to training, diet, or racing plans.
“For the first time in my life, I can fill in everything myself. I start with a completely blank page and where I’m going, I have no idea. And I’d like to leave it that way. Because it feels good.”