(Image credit: Getty)
Tom Dumoulin had the rare gift of riding fast without ever really looking like he was in a hurry, and his decision to hang up the bike this week was in keeping with that style. The final announcement came more quickly than expected, but the reasoning behind it was anything but rushed. Like most things in Dumoulin’s career, the end arrived only after considerable, careful thought.
Perhaps it was apt that Dumoulin formally took his leave just as cycling’s big top was being pitched in Utrecht for the start of the Vuelta a España. Seven years ago, when the Tour de France visited the city, local eyes were all for Dumoulin, who was tipped to become the first Dutchman to wear the yellow jersey in over a quarter of a century in the opening time trial.
Dumoulin had already taken a bronze medal at the previous year’s Worlds time trial, and he had just hinted at untapped potential in the mountains by placing third at the Tour de Suisse, but this Dutch Grand Départ marked his first real dalliance with stardom. Whether he realised it or not, Dumoulin was swept aboard a carousel of expectation and responsibility. It would be years before the music would stop again.
Compatriots lined the streets that afternoon in yellow t-shirts bearing the legend ‘ Ik ben en dumoulist ’ and even though Dumoulin had to settle for fourth place, it felt less like a missed opportunity than a coronation deferred. He was still […]