Dumoulin at a criterium in Maastricht this June, one of his final outings as a professional.

The flights were already booked, so Tom Dumoulin went to Australia

Wollongong was supposed to be Dumoulin's goodbye. Instead, he watched on from the roadside.

Don’t miss out on the latest CyclingTips updates.

Jump To Comments

It was not the perfect goodbye as was originally intended.

When announcing back in June that he would be retiring from racing at the end of 2022, Tom Dumoulin highlighted the Wollongong Worlds in September as the place to bid farewell.

“I hope to get the best out of myself in the time trial one last time,” he said. Two months later that planned end was abruptly brought forward. On August 15 he said he couldn’t do it anymore, that the tank was empty, his legs heavy.

That was it, a line drawn under a fabulous, glittering career, well-wishers lining up to pay tribute to one of the Netherlands’ modern greats.

There was one problem, however. The plane tickets to Australia for the Worlds had already been bought, for both him and his family. “They had already booked the tickets because they initially wanted to be at my farewell,” Dumoulin told AD. “Now we make it a nice holiday.”

So the Dumoulin clan headed down under, to the place where he made his debut on the World Championship stage in Geelong 12 years ago, a top 10 in the U23 time trial a smoke signal of what was to come.

Having arrived in Sydney, he wasn’t present for the elite men’s time trial. Not out of choice, but because there weren’t any trains south to Wollongong. No longer was a staff member a phone call away, ready to ferry him wherever needed.

He would spectate the other events, staying on for the men’s road race the following Sunday. He found time in between to sit down with Dutch broadcaster NOS to talk more about the the gradual close of his career, which began after that high-point of 2017.

“Suddenly there was a lot more to it than I had experienced until then,” Dumoulin said. “Until then I was really doing it for myself. I thought it was cool to challenge myself to get better…from that moment on I started doing it for others a bit. Others also thought it was very important that I cycled. My team, sponsors, fans. I got the feeling that it was also very important that my team was satisfied with what I did.”

By 2019, he had made the decision that pastures new were needed, a different environment from the one at Sunweb that had housed him since turning professional. One win in three years, at the Dutch national time trial championships in 2021, tells the story of these later years and Dumoulin admits the pairing with Jumbo-Visma may not have been ideal.

“In retrospect you can say that for me, at that moment, it was not the match made in heaven. There are 101 reasons, but also because of injuries and hassle I didn’t reach the level I wanted. That starts to gnaw at yourself and a little bit at the people who work with you every day. It was years of doubt. That was part of that.”

Since stopping six weeks ago, Dumoulin has also enjoyed a holiday in Costa Rica before his trip to Australia, taking the time to relax and consider what the future has in store for him.

“I think it’s been nice. I have changed, as a person. I feel like doing something different. There’s nothing wrong with that, is there? I am happy and happy about that,” Dumoulin says of retirement. “I think I want to do something in cycling. I don’t know what that will be. Because I also feel that I will make the best decision when I take two steps back.”

It will no doubt take a while for the 31-year-old to adapt to his new post-racing life but he is in no doubt of what he managed to achieve during his decade in the sport.

“I was a pro for eleven years. I’ve been one of the best in the world. I have won a Grand Tour, been a world champion…I want to look at it from a positive perspective, but for that proud feeling I first have to take a few steps back.”

Editors' Picks