CyclingPub Interview: Tom Dumoulin discusses past and future
Jan 12 2017 03:49 pm CET

CyclingPub Interview: Tom Dumoulin discusses past and future
CyclingPub Interview: Tom Dumoulin discusses past and future
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TOM DUMOULIN
TEAM SUNWEB

Tom Dumoulin, winner of three grand tour stages in 2016 and Silver medalist of the Rio de Janeiro Olympic Time Trial, took a moment of his time to talk to CyclingPub.com.

We meet the rather tall Dutchman in the lobby of a hotel in Calpe, Spain, where his team Sunweb is preparing for the upcoming season. He looks relaxed and clearly has everything under control as he prepares for a year in which the classification of the Giro d'Italia will be his main goal.

During our interview, we discuss the past season, the plans for 2017, Dumoulin's role in the peloton and much more.

CyclingPub: How is the feeling at the moment? Is the preparation going according to plan?

Tom Dumoulin: I'm doing well. We're well on schedule. We had a test day yesterday and that went well. I will have a test on the track in Valencia tomorrow. The rest of the team will be on the bike for six hours and I can only do four or five. So I trained a bit longer today.
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Tom Dumoulin (Team Sunweb), Calpe 2017
Photos by Mary Cárdenas / CyclingPub.com

How do you look back on the past season? What is the general feeling?

Very happy, very proud. I'm actually really satisfied with the season. Just Rio, everybody always starts asking about that... Of course I would have preferred to have Gold there but it just wasn't possible. And I wasn't disappointed that long. Right after the finish I was disappointed of course. Especially after the time trial in the Tour de France where I had a big gap, you hope to go for Gold there. But the circumstances complicated that.

Did you find a nice spot in your living room for your Silver medal though?

I'm still looking for a good spot. It's lying somewhere in my study now. It'll get a spot at some point.

"To be able to put on the Pink Jersey in front of your home crowd, a lot of emotions came together there"

There were quite a few highlights for you in the past season, but which one is your absolute highlight?

The Tour stage to Andorra. That was really cool. And the (Giro d'Italia) time trial in Apeldoorn was also beautiful, to be able to put on the Pink Jersey in front of your home crowd, a lot of emotions came together there.

What does that feel like for you, to be riding through such a crowd like in Apeldoorn or a year earlier in Utrecht? We can see it from the side of the road or on TV but you really experience it.

It's like cycling through a stadium. I am very focused so I kind of block it out but you do notice and it's really cool to experience.

This year is a post-Olympic year. Does it feel like a bit of a liberation for you that you don't have to focus so much on the Olympic Time Trial like you had to do last year?

Every year has its own challenges. I wouldn't say that it will be easier than last year, maybe even harder. Last year I was really focused on time trials, on one goal. That comes with a lot of doubts and uncertainty. But this year I will try to ride for the classification which is something I haven't done before either. That's exciting as well. It won't be easier this year, no.

As for the Giro, have you decided for yourself what you will be aiming for?

Many people ask me about my classification but I just want to try really hard. That may sound silly but I won't be happy with a 22nd place, even if I did try my best. I just can't say 'fifth or sixth or third'. We'll see. I will finish it and then see whether I'm happy with the result.

Do you see this Giro as a kind of stepping stone to find out what you might be capable of for the future?

Absolutely.

"The team dedicated a lot of time and money to create the best possible roster with the means available."

Has the team made the right changes since that 2015 Vuelta a España [where Dumoulin had little help from teammates while trying to defend his Red Jersey] to support you and Warren Barguil in grand tours?

We don't have the budget of Sky or BMC. We can't just buy a rider for half a million and tell him to just ride in front. We don't have the budget for that. As long as that doesn't change, we will never be as strong as those other teams. But the team dedicated a lot of time and money to create the best possible roster with the means available. We did manage to attract Wilco Kelderman, which is great and makes me feel more supported.

In the Giro, apart from the time trials, where do you think you could make a difference?

I will definitely have to take advantage of the time trials. And there are a few stages that will be difficult but not that bad. An uphill finish of 20 kilometers will be a matter of me limiting the damage. But other stages, such as the one that goes through Tuscany I believe, will be an opportunity for me to strike.

Have you significantly adjusted your preparation in comparison to last year, having such different goals this time around?

Yes and no. Until now the preparation has been pretty similar. We even made more time trial kilometers than last year. But from the moment the races come closer, more attention will go to climbing rather than time trials. I will also go to South Africa for a altitude training camp in February for two weeks. That will be new to me. I have done altitude training before but not that early in the year.

How big is the difference between having had a training camp at high altitude and not having had one?

It's not so much that you see big changes to the blood levels. They always say that, that your erythropoietin levels rise. I'm sure they do, but the big difference is simply the amount of climbing kilometers you can do. A very specific training with a lot of meters at high altitude. That's not something I do when I'm in Limburg. I do climbs there as well but not climbs of an hour. I can't deliver 320 watts for an hour when I'm at home, and in South Africa I can.

You already mentioned Valencia and your track session there. What do you do on a day like that?

We will try to make improvements to my positioning on the bike. And if we don't manage that, at least we'll have a good confirmation that the positioning is good. We do this test every year and we haven't actually changed anything for four years. And maybe it'll be the same this year. But it's just one day in the preseason and I like to spend that time in order to feel certain about my positioning for the rest of the year.

It's very early in the season but have you considered riding the Vuelta this year?

The option is there but probably not. It's very early to say but it's not planned. The idea is to do the Eneco Tour before going to Canada and then the World Championships.

In 2015 you set a bit of a trend by coming very close to a big result in a grand tour. Steven Kruijswijk and Bauke Mollema then did similar things. Does it give you added motivation to see that your compatriots are also making that step?

I mostly focus on myself so I don't feel pressure just because Steven is doing so well. But still, somewhere deep down it does seem to cause something. You do see that in the last few years, with the same riders as before, we're suddenly getting the results. I don't really know what caused that. It's definitely notable.

"If you're just not good enough you can have as much of a winner's mentality as you like but it won't make a difference."

Do you think that the mentality has changed? Is there more of a 'winner's mentality' now?

I don't know if we missed that in the past. If you're just not good enough you can have as much of a winner's mentality as you like but it won't make a difference. A classification after three weeks is very fair. It's not like you would have fought for the top spots if you did have a winner's mentality. I don't think it's that easy. I reckon it's just a coincidence.

A bit of rivalry as well, maybe?

Not really. Of course I want to do well and if I do well, someone else suffers. If I finish first, someone else can't finish first. In that sense there's always some rivalry. But not particularly, no. Wout Poels, Mollema and Kruijswijk and I were at the Olympic Games together and we had a great time there.

Mollema told us the same, more or less, saying that there's not much of a rivalry but that he would definitely want to beat you guys when you race against each other.

I wouldn't wait for Bauke either. I will also attack him when I see he's having a bad moment. If we're in a battle for fifth place, I'll be on my way.

During that Vuelta in 2015, you seemed to take on a certain leading role in the peloton. This occasionally showed in races since then as well. Is that a role that you think would suit you in the future, to become a bit like Fabian Cancellara for example?

No. When I feel the need I do speak my mind, and sometimes a bit too much. I have to find a balance in that sense. But I definitely don't want to be some sort of 'patron'. I'm far away from that role now but if I could have it at some point, I wouldn't want it.

As for voicing your opinion; what about the safety in the peloton? What do you think should happen first to improve the situation?

I rode the Eneco Tour last year and it was very well organized there. I think we didn't see any motorbikes in the peloton during the entire week. So it's possible. They gave a lot of thought to the signalling for motorbikes and it was great. I think that will be the future and other races should follow the example. Apart from that, having less riders in the peloton would also improve the safety although that comes with its own pro's and cons.

You would agree with the measure of reducing the teams to eight in grand tours?

It would likely lead to more exciting races as it's harder to control. It's also better for safety. But it does goes at the expense of a lot of jobs.

"When Sam Oomen won the Tour de l'Ain last year, I did do a little victory dance in the room."

Within the team, do you have specific younger riders you like to work with to help them find their way?

Not really one rider in particular. I do really enjoy it when the younger riders do well. Like when Sam Oomen won the Tour de l'Ain last year, I did do a little victory dance in the room.

How do you see the future of Dutch cycling?

Positive. We have a nice new generation with guys like Sam and the guys that currently carry Dutch cycling in the sense of results can also keep it up for another few years, like Bauke, Steven, Wilco and me. So I'm optimistic about the future.
Photo of Tom Dumoulin by Mary Cárdenas / CyclingPub.com





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