Tom Dumoulin of the Netherlands with his silver medal, Primoz Roglic of Slovenia with his gold medal competing on Men's Individual Time Trial during the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games at the Fuji International Speedway on July 28, 2021 in Tokyo, Japan (Photo by Ronald Hoogendoorn/BSR Agency/Getty Images)

Following Roglic and an eye on GC: Why Tom Dumoulin got back in the saddle

“I want to see it now as an adventure," Dumoulin said.

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Tom Dumoulin is back. Renewed, rejuvenated, and ready to return to some of his old goals. 

It wasn’t initially clear following his break from the sport, which lasted from December 2020 to the June of 2021, whether Dumoulin wanted to step back into the careful, monklike existence of a GC contender. An existence that in many ways drove him from the sport. He does, he says. But with inspiration from the time away and from his teammate Primoz Roglic, he’s approaching the same old job with a new attitude. 

“I love talking with Primoz,” Dumoulin told l’Equipe from his training camp in Catalonia. “When you talk to him about your problems, he really listens. I’ve never seen him judge anyone. He gives his feelings, talks about his experience, and what he told me will help me to live the rest of my career.”

The two rider’s fates came together quickly upon Dumoulin’s return to racing and will be intertwined as teammates next season. Dumoulin’s focus on the time trial in Tokyo ended with a silver medal, just behind Roglic. “If I had to choose who would beat me, I would have chosen Primoz,” Dumoulin said. “He is a kind of example for me.” 

“For several seasons, I got into the habit of conforming to the demands of others,” he said. “I did that for too long, I just couldn’t get over it and had to make this decision to quit in order to have the necessary perspective and find a way to function differently.”

Roglic functions differently. He has a reputation, perhaps undeserved, for a somewhat detached approach to racing. An antipode to the gregariousness of Julian Alaphilippe, ruthless in his overhaul of the peloton’s Gino Maders. But those close to him point to quite the opposite – to a more emotional rider, a publicly quiet but respected leader who stands above a team full of leaders, and who views his career not in black and white terms of winning and losing but as, as Dumoulin put it, “an adventure.” 

His approach to racing is worth emulating, Dumoulin believes. 

“I want to see it now as an adventure, a story that I write, for me and for me alone,” he said. “Something that you are lucky enough to experience only once in your life and of which you have to accept the best and the worst.”

That doesn’t mean the goals have shifted downwards, though Dumoulin acknowledges the realities of his slot within a stacked team. Tour de France leadership isn’t likely. Taking on the Giro, which he won in 2017, might be. 

“One thing is certain,” Dumoulin said “is that I will continue to aim for the general classification in certain races. “

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