Merijn Zeeman about Dumoulin: “Tom is one of the best Dutch riders ever”

Merijn Zeeman about Dumoulin: “Tom is one of the best Dutch riders ever”

Interview

Tom Dumoulin will retire from the sport at the end of 2022 after eleven seasons of professional cycling. In the Giro d’Italia he was unable to achieve his classification ambitions and on Friday afternoon he announced his choice to stop at the end of the year. Sporting director Merijn Zeeman stood CyclingFlash two days before that decision.

a lot of setback
After Dumoulin missed the team’s Spanish training camp in January due to close contact with an infected person, he went to Colombia for a training internship. “Things have gone well up to and including there,” explains Zeeman. “After that, he has had too many moments – in which he himself contracted corona and struggled with a knee injury – that have worked against him. On the highest podium with optimally prepared riders, he faced opponents who were better than him. Also because he has remained far removed from what he is intrinsically capable of. In the Tour de France 2020 he finished seventh, that’s not long ago.”

Zeeman had extensive contact with Dumoulin on Monday. “Then I told him that he had to deal with a huge disappointment,” he explains. “But I also told him that he is one of the best cyclists the Netherlands has ever had. With winning a Grand Tour, taking a world title, with two silver medals at the Olympic Games, a second place in the Tour and much more. This means that he can determine very well how he thinks he will return to a top level and what he considers important in order to achieve that. Tom is the only one who can answer that.”

That answer came on Friday: Tom Dumoulin will stop cycling after 2022. “I wish him all the best”, Zeeman responds.

photo: Cor Vos

The Dumoulin project: successful or not?
Jumbo-Visma took over Dumoulin from Team Sunweb in 2020 for a lot of money. As a Dutch top rider in a Dutch team, he had to ensure success. Zeeman looks back on the three seasons that Jumbo-Visma worked with the fallen driver. “A lot has happened in his life. Tom has gained certain insights himself and he explained this extensively last year (when he took a break, ed.). We as a team are working together to create an environment in which we can be successful and get the most out of it. In the end, it is the people themselves who make sure whether that pays off or not.”

“We traveled with Tom,” he continues. “You always act in the here and now. How can we best assist Tom? Just like we do with all our other riders. He has always been a very valued part of the team. There are beautiful moments, but also disappointments. Did we want to continue with him? That always depends on personal ambitions and the environment that a rider is looking for. If they fit the squad, sure. The last three years we have always been able to have very good and mature conversations with each other. I’m really proud of that,” he says.

Zeeman indicates that this has not always been easy. “Tom had some really tough moments last year. I always think that we as Jumbo-Visma have always been there for him. And vice versa. We have always been able to work together in a very good, respectful way. As far as we are concerned, we will continue to do so from now on.”