On 23 January, Tom Dumoulin (Jumbo-Visma) surprised his fans and the world of cycling when he announced that he would sit back and take some time for himself before considering a return to competition. Four months later, the Dutch star lines up for the 84th edition of the Tour de Suisse (6-13 June). How will the 2017 Giro d'Italia winner fare on his come-back to competitive racing and a summer filled with major goals?
Aiming for the Olympics
Tom Dumoulin has rediscovered his ambition and his mental freshness. At the end of the winter, he appeared worn out by all the efforts dedicated to his career as a top pro cyclist. But putting away his bike for a few weeks to simply enjoy his life worked wonders for the Dutchman. We saw him again on the roads of the Amstel Gold Race, in April, but as a spectator, and there was a sense of a budding will to be a rider again... he just needed to define his new ambitions to formalise his return. It will be the Tokyo Olympic Games, five years after he took the silver medal in the individual time trial in Rio.
The Tour de Suisse thus seems to be the perfect event for his return. In addition to its mountainous challenges, the ninth stage race of the 2021 UCI WorldTour calendar features two time trials. The first one is 10.9km long through the streets of Frauenfeld. The second, on the penultimate stage, is particularly demanding with 600m of elevation over 23.3km between Disentis-Sedrun and Andermatt.
Dumoulin's performance in Switzerland will be closely monitored. It should give a real indication of his current level and his ability to bounce back to glory this summer. In the absence of Primož Roglič, preparing for the Tour de France on his own, and Steven Kruijswijk, currently riding the Critérium du Dauphiné, Dumoulin should enjoy freedom in the ranks of Jumbo-Visma.
With Chris Harper (4th in the UAE Tour) and his compatriots Sam Oomen and Antwan Tolhoek, the Dutch team provides him with a strong supporting cast. We will soon see if he is ready to ride as a General Classification (GC) leader, more than seven months after abandoning the 2020 Vuelta a España (DNS in stage 8) or if he'll adjust his tactics to hunt for stage wins, which may be his main ambition in Switzerland.
Dumoulin will notably have to deal with the two leaders of Ineos Grenadiers for this Tour de Suisse. Richard Carapaz and Adam Yates come as hot favourites, in line with the impressive results their has team claimed in stage races this season. After occupying all three spots on the podium of the Volta Ciclista a Catalunya (victory for Adam Yates ahead of Richie Porte and Geraint Thomas), the British squad won the Tour de Romandie (Thomas), then the Giro d’Italia, thanks to Egan Bernal.
The likes of Jakob Fuglsang (Astana-Premier Tech) and UCI World Champion Julian Alaphilippe (Deceuninck - Quick-Step) are also strong contenders for the overall standings. In the two time trials, Dumoulin will face a number of specialists, including two Swiss experts: European Champion in the time trial Stefan Küng (Groupama-FDJ) and his compatriot Stefan Bissegger (EF Education-Nippo). Many eyes will also turn to the Frenchman Benjamin Thomas (Groupama-FDJ) and the Dane Søren Kragh Andersen (Team DSM).
In the Dutch mix
Dumoulin may not have a record to match Rui Costa (UAE Team Emirates) at the Tour de Suisse – three times a winner and back this year for a ninth time – but he has already shone in the race. In three participations, the Dutchman has climbed once onto the overall podium, finishing 3rd in 2015, a year after claiming 5th place. He has also taken two stage wins.
Dumoulin will enjoy these eight days of hard racing to build condition for his summer goals, which are unlikely to include the Tour de France; Jumbo-Visma have announced that Jonas Vingegaard would replace him in support of Primož Roglič as they chase the yellow jersey. This Tour de Suisse is an opportunity to show his strength as a member of the Dutch national selection for the Olympic Games, both for the time trial and the road race. He needs to show he can be a leader in a team that also boasts Bauke Mollema and Wilco Kelderman.
Tom Dumoulin should face these riders in the Dutch National Championships, where he'll chase a fourth title in the time trial (after success in 2014-15 and 2017). He will also line up in the road race, whose last winner, Mathieu Van der Poel, is also returning to road racing in the Tour de Suisse ahead of the Tour de France and the mountain bike events in Tokyo.