Road

Tom Dumoulin rues a ‘year full of setbacks’

Dutchman looking to rally from 'difficult' year in preparation for 2021 Tour de France and Olympics.

Tom Dumoulin may not have had the 2020 he’d have liked, but at least he has the summer of 2021 to look forward to.

The Dutch grand tour star made a long-awaited comeback to racing this summer after a long battle with injuries, illnesses, and the COVID race stop. After a year out of racing and a high-profile transfer to home team Jumbo-Visma, the world, and Dumoulin, expected a lot.

The former Giro d’Italia champion feels he failed to deliver.

“Expectations were high, and I understand that,” Dumoulin told De Limburger. “I have not been able to fully live up to those expectations, also of myself.”

After starting strong at the Tour de France, Dumoulin caved and pulled back to support Primož Roglič, finishing up in Paris seventh overall. After a disappointing time trial at the Imola worlds, the 30-year-old’s season continued to rollercoaster, ending up with a burned-out abandon at the Vuelta a España.

“When I look at last season, I think I was mentally strong,” Dumoulin said Friday. “It was a year full of setbacks, the second season in a row in which it did not fall my way … It was physically more difficult than hoped for. In top sport, it’s all about the last percent.”

In an ever more competitive field stacked with emerging young talents, Dumoulin accepted 99 percent is no longer good enough.

“That one percent is more difficult than the first ninety,” he said. “I don’t know if it has gotten harder now. The generation competing for the prizes is getting younger and younger. That is special. As a result, the established order really has to get to work. However, I have a lot of confidence that I can still win that one percent.”

Dumoulin will be looking to write-off 2020 as a comeback season.

Having started the Tour as a co-captain alongside Roglič, Dumoulin left the race disappointed, with 10th place at the worlds time trial one week later further salt in the wound. The hung-head abandon in the Vuelta proved an ignominious end to the Dutchman’s tumultuous year.

Dumoulin will be resetting his ambitions in the new year and will have equally-lofty goals for the summer of 2021. The long, hilly time trial of the Tokyo Olympics and TT-heavy Tour de France are both inked firmly into his schedule.

“The Tour de France? Let’s put it this way: a very nice course,” he said. “More time trial kilometers again for the first time.”

Dumoulin is starting his own independent training camp this week. He’ll be looking for that one percent.