Tom Dumoulin has announced his plans to retire from professional cycling with immediate effect.
The Dutchman, who previously took time off the bike for his mental health in 2020/2021, was due to retire at the end of the year, but wrote that ‘the tank is empty, the legs feel heavy’.
‘Even though the farewell didn’t turn out the way I hoped, I look back on my career with incredible pride.’
Here Cyclist looks back at 5 of our favourite Tom Dumoulin moments as the champion, both on and off the bike, calls time on his pro career.
5. Stage 14, Giro d’Italia 2017
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Stage 14 of the 2017 Giro d’Italia was as dramatic as it was delightful. Nairo Quintana had already shot up the road, climbing in his trademark no-sweat-zero-emotion-full-effort style.
Dumoulin, resplendent in the pink jersey, attacked from his group with 3.5km to go. Behind Quintana the scene displayed itself like something of a horror film for Movistar fans as you could almost hear the Jaws music, an impending Dumoulin gradually getting bigger, and bigger and bigger…
Until finally he took one breath on the wheel of Quintana and attacked once more. ‘He doesn’t just want to be a time-triallist, he wants to be a hero!’ shouted Carlton Kirby as the Dutchman looked aggravated at the non-working Ilnur Zakarin, the group reabsorbing together once more.
On a fierce finishing straight that dropped Quintana, Dumoulin ensured his final effort secured the stage victory ahead of Zakarin and bonus seconds. A phenomenal day on the bike.
4. Stage 9, Tour de France 2016
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Rain. Hail. Chaos.
The Queen Stage of the 2016 Tour de France ensured a punishing ride from Spain to Andorre Arcalís. Just the three Category 1 climbs and finish on the hors catégorie Arcalís.
Dumoulin dropped the leading group at the base of the final climb, the weather switched from sun to sudden downpour, but even the elements themselves were no match for big Tommy D.
This was to be his first Tour de France stage victory. And what a way to take it.
3. Stage 7, Tour of Britain 2016
This is more personal. But given I’m the one writing this, it makes sense to include it. I first met Dumoulin accidentally at the Tour of Britain all the way back in 2016.
It was on a day that boasted an interesting format. A time-trial in the morning, dubbed Stage 7a, and a 90km road race in the afternoon for Stage 7b.
After 7a and before 7b, which is threatening to sound more like a confusing train station than cycling event, I was walking along the course. The beauty of cycling is its accessibility, the notion of talking to a World Champion as you head to get another coffee never getting old.
I bumped into Dumoulin (not literally) just as he finished second in the time-trial. He weaved through fans with ease before climbing off his bike and beginning to warm down. I thought I’d go tell him well done, the typical kind of ‘I’m a teenager and don’t really know what else to say’, and he was a complete gem.
All smiles and happy to answer whatever question people threw at him. It’s stuck with me all these years.
2. Prioritising mental health
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Cycling can take so much from a person, exertion both on a physical and mental level.
Dumoulin announced plans to step back from the sport in January of 2021.
‘It is really as if a backpack of a hundred kilos has slipped off my shoulders,’ he wrote for the Jumbo-Visma website. ‘I immediately woke up happy. That tells everything.’
His honesty furthers a culture in cycling that allows riders to believe they can talk about their mental health, that they don’t have to hide it. As someone who has struggled with their own mental health for over a decade, this openness from a professional cyclist enables people to know they’re not alone.
His return months later coincided with his selection for the postponed Tokyo Olympics. It was here that the Dutchman won his second silver medal, finishing behind Jumbo-Visma teammate Primož Roglič in the time-trial.
Proof that prioritising your mental health can work wonders for yourself – even if you’re not a professional cyclist chasing an Olympic medal.
I also just had to include the above photo of Dumoulin hugging Koen Bouwman after helping his teammate to his first Grand Tour victory at the Giro this year. <3
1. GC victory, Giro d’Italia 2017
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But of course, there was only one real option for number one. Dumoulin battled over mountains, through widely documented stomach issues and fierce competition from Nairo Quintana to win the Trofeo Senza Fine in 2017.
From the point of Quintana’s Stage 9 victory and Dumoulin’s own subsequent win on Stage 10, the jersey swapped hands between the pair in a battle of dominance. Quintana grasped the maglia rosa back after Stage 19, holding off his rival by 38 seconds.
Dumoulin had slipped down to fourth on general classification after Stage 20, with just one final day remaining. Unfortunately for Quintana, it was a 29.3km time-trial. Dumoulin was looking to race both the clock and the Colombian, scaling the 53 second deficit with as much power a national time-trial champion can muster after three weeks.
It was a case of frantic triple-time-checking at checkpoints and making mental calculations to figure out the virtual classification on the road, the camera flicking between the two with enough jump cuts to race the heart of the most neutral of viewers.
Posting an average speed of 52kmh, Dumoulin emptied the tank and then some. It was a double Dutch delight for Jumbo-Visma as teammate Jos van Emden won his first Grand Tour stage, Dumoulin the overall.
A ferocious battle that came down to the wire, Dumoulin celebrated before Quintana crossed the line – 31 seconds ultimately separated the pair.
It was a Grand Tour that enthralled us all, just like Tom Dumoulin’s career itself.
Thank you Tom.