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Tom Dumoulin and Team Sunweb are set to part ways at the end of the 2019 season despite a contract binding the two through 2021. Sunweb today confirmed rumours that Dumoulin’s contract with the team had been dissolved, bringing to an end the Dutchman’s eight-year stint at the team.
Dumoulin began his pro career with the setup back in 2012 when it was known as Argos-Shimano and has remained with the squad since. In that time Argos-Shimano made the step up to the WorldTour (2013) and changed its name to Giant-Shimano (2014) then Giant-Alpecin (2015-16) and finally to Sunweb (2017-2019).
In his time with the team Dumoulin has transitioned from pure time-trialist to GC contender at the Grand Tours. Along the way he has won four stages and an overall title at the Giro d’Italia (2017), three Tour de France stages, two Vuelta a Espana stages, and the world time trial title (2017). He also finished runner-up at both the Tour and Giro in 2018.
The now-28-year-old has had an interrupted 2019 season. He withdrew from the Giro d’Italia on stage 5 after sustaining a knee injury in a crash the previous day. That injury kept him out of the Tour de France a couple months later. He hasn’t raced this year since withdrawing from the Criterium du Dauphine in mid June.
In today’s Sunweb press release, Dumoulin confirmed he was ready for a fresh start.
“As a rider you always search for the highest achievable and you constantly ask yourself whether you are still in the right place, what is the best team for you and where the best options and opportunities are,” Dumoulin said. “There has always been interest from other teams, that’s normal, but the facilities here have always made me not to speak with other teams.
“After the disappointment of missing the Tour and finding myself sitting at home, I started to consider that a new environment could be refreshing. That’s why I decided to focus on the interest of some teams. There were great offers and this phase of my career felt like the right time to take it.”
Dumoulin said that leaving Sunweb would hurt and that he was grateful for the opportunities the team had provided.
“I’ve proven with Team Sunweb that winning a Grand Tour is possible with this team and I have no doubt that I could do it again with them,” he said. “I know that the grass will not always be greener than at Team Sunweb and I want to emphasise that without them, I could never have got to where I am today.
“I will always remain grateful for the opportunities that I have had, and the opportunity that the team now grants me to allow me to explore my options within a new team.”
Team CEO Iwan Spekenbrink said he understood Dumoulin’s desire to chase a new opportunity.
“It’s been a difficult year for Tom with the setbacks he has experienced and it’s normal for any person at this age to take a step back and reassess their situation,” he said. “Tom opened up to thoughts that a new environment could be refreshing and we decided to respect his request and cooperate to make a move possible.
“Tom means a lot to the organisation, and the organisation means a lot to him; we achieved a lot together. We’re of course sad to see him leave, but in the end that’s top sports — athletes go and next generation promising athletes come. However, we are choosing to look back positively and with enormous pride on our amazing years with a truly fantastic athlete, Tom Dumoulin.
“We are thankful for the years with Tom and wish him all the best for the future.”
Dumoulin is expected to join Jumbo-Visma in 2020. If confirmed, the transfer will give the Dutch outfit three Grand Tour GC contenders for the 2020 season: Dumoulin, Steven Kruijswijk and Primoz Roglic.
UPDATE: Just a few hours after Team Sunweb announced the news of Dumoulin’s contract with the team being dissolved Jumb-Visma sent out a press release stating that they had acquired the Dutchman. The press release stated:
Team Jumbo-Visma has strengthened itself for the next three seasons with Tom Dumoulin. The coveted rider completes the classification core, which should be able to win a grand tour.
“I’m looking forward to contributing to that goal, winning a grand tour”, says Dumoulin, who was on the highest step of the podium in the Giro before. “I was looking for a new sporting challenge and Team Jumbo-Visma is the right team for this. I’m looking forward to it. I started my cycling career with the Rabobank Continental team, a predecessor of the current Team Jumbo-Visma. That’s why this step feels a bit like coming home. It’s nice to represent the colours of the Dutch team.”
Team Jumbo-Visma has the ambition to structurally compete for the final victory in grand tours. CEO Richard Plugge sees the realisation of that ambition coming closer with this spectacular reinforcement. “You’d better race with each other than against each other”, he refers to the fights that Dumoulin fought with Primoz Roglic and Steven Kruijswijk, for example. “We can now put together the strongest possible team in the fight against a team like Ineos. Making our dreams and ambitions come true is getting closer and closer.”
Since 2013, Plugge has been working steadily to achieve his goals and considers signing the 28-year-old Dutch GC contender and time trialist a striking next step. “We have grown step by step and always want to improve. Taking part in the final victory in grand tours has always been a goal and a plan. This is warmly supported by Jumbo and Visma and our other partners. We will continue to work together on this. In this case by making the arrival of Tom possible.”
In sports director Merijn Zeeman, Dumoulin meets an old acquaintance at Team Jumbo-Visma. “As a neo professional, we worked together. That was very pleasant and I liked it very much. After that we always kept in touch”, the rider from the Dutch province of Limburg concludes.