Jumbo-Visma are looking to move on from the Tom Dumoulin era after the Dutchman announced a hiatus from professional cycling, team directeur sportif Merijn Zeeman says.
The 30-year-old made the surprise announcement that he would be taking unpaid leave for an unspecified period of time last Saturday, just one day after confirming his schedule for the early part of the 2021 season.
Zeeman has pledged to support Dumoulin but has called on his team-mates to step up in his absence, saying it is possible that they could "move on" from the former Giro d'Italia winner.
Dumoulin's 2021 season over after breaking wrist on training ride
“Of course it has an impact,” Zeeman said in a video posted on the team’s website on Saturday evening.
- Giro a possible springboard to Tour de France for Froome
- 'I have forgotten myself a bit' - Dumoulin to take break from cycling
“Tom is a fantastic rider. But in the end, is it Team Jumbo-Visma. We have a group of 27 riders, of which Tom, unfortunately, is not part of the team for the time being.
"There are also riders who will seize the opportunity. Spots become available in beautiful races. We will now start to think about that. We still have a very strong team. And Tom being happy, who feels good about himself, who wants nothing more than to be a top athlete, is of course a great rider for Team Jumbo Visma.
But if Tom doesn’t feel happy and doesn’t want to do this, it automatically means it’s not good for the team either. We both came to that conclusion. With an understanding for each other. And now we’re moving on.
Zeeman was not eager to set a return date for Dumoulin, saying it was right that his break from the sport should be open-ended.
Cycling in 2020: Geoghegan Hart seals Giro as Pogacar steals Tour
“I don’t think there should be an end date in this kind of process,” he said.
"The end date has been approaching from day one. This really is a process, a natural process. Searching for yourself. There should be no end date.
"We as a team, the sponsors, the staff, his team-mates, support him. I think Tom really feels that support. We will see how life goes. For now, it’s all about Tom as a human being and he’s taking a break.
"Of course, it’s heavy news. We’re going to miss a very good rider for the time being. In the end, the people always come before the athletes. We have talked about that a lot for a long time. We gave Tom all the help he needed already last season.
"In the end, the same question kept coming up and, in close consultation with us, he decided to take a break for the time being to come to his senses, and we support him in that. We have also shown understanding for it."
‘Absolute masterclass’ – Bahrain Victorious delight as Mohoric wins final stage, Colbrelli tops GC
Dumoulin to take part in World Championships