Jumbo-Visma expect that Tom Dumoulin will be ready to compete in 2021’s UCI Road World Championship after taking a break from the sport.
The 30-year-old took some time away from cycling at the start of the season to deal with the pressure of professional sport, and has made a gentle return to cycling in June.
He followed up his limited involvement with a silver medal at the Olympics in Tokyo, but despite that success he will not be part of the Belgian team’s squad for the forthcoming Vuelta a Espana.
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The team’s directeur sportif Merijn Zeeman will meet with Dumoulin to plan for the remainder of the season and beyond.
Speaking to Cycling News, Zeeman said: “One thing that’s decided is that he won’t ride the Vuelta but we will find some other races that are good for him. We’ll inspire him to do some nice races but obviously the World Championships are important for him as well."
After a difficult period before taking time away, Zeeman explained that Dumoulin is enjoying cycling again, and wants to take part in more events over the rest of the season.
“He’s given the signal that he enjoys cycling and that he wants to do a programme after Tokyo,” he said.
“That’s step one. Then we’ll hear his ideas and what ambitions he has. He has been rock bottom and the most important thing is that he doesn’t get to that again. We adapt as a team to his ambitions and there are multiple options. We can go in any direction but the only thing is that he’s happy in what he’s doing, and then he can go and get results.
"That’s the key to find the best possible programme and fit for him. The most important thing is that he combines happiness with being an athlete. That’s how we try and work with all our riders. Tom learned a very important lesson and from now on we’ll keep working on this path in the future.”
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Zeeman was taken aback by Dumoulin’s decision to take a break from the sport. Just days before the team had broadcast their Tour de France line with Dumoulin firmly entrenched in their eight-man line up.
Zeeman also shed some light on how Dumoulin’s decision had forced them to learn to accommodate the various demands of their athletes.
“Good managers learn everyday and I learnt a lot from this case,” he said.
“Every athlete is different and if you want the best from their potential then you need to look at each rider differently. That’s the core of how we work, we make the athlete the centre of everything. If you have a situation where the athlete doesn’t believe in what they’re doing, then the outcome won't be success, it will be frustration.
"We’ve learned that and Tom is proof that we create independent athletes who make their own choices. If they’re young you need to let them own their own development. And with Tom we let him take a step back and explore his programme. That’s why it’s really his success, this silver medal. We’ve been behind him but Tom really took things in his own hands and it’s a big compliment for him.”
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