Tom Dumoulin: Rio 2016 and Tokyo 2020, tale of two Silver medals
Jul 29 2021 01:36 am CET

Tom Dumoulin: Rio 2016 and Tokyo 2020, tale of two Silver medals
Tom Dumoulin: Rio 2016 and Tokyo 2020, tale of two Silver medals
Tokyo 2020 logo

Dutch rider Tom Dumoulin (Jumbo-Visma) has taken the Silver medal at the time trial of the Olympic Games of Tokyo 2020, the same result he achieved at Rio 2016, but with a completely different story.

By: Maritza Cárdenas

The road of the rider to the second step of the Olympic podium of Tokyo 2020 has been as difficult as the challenges he likes to compete in. Although the result is the same, the podium pictures of Rio 2016 and Tokyo 2020 are completely different and have a different Dumoulin behind them.

When Dumoulin started in the individual time trial of the Olympic Games of Rio 2016, he was enjoying a good moment in his career. As the years passed, he was becoming a better rider, a better time trialist, and he had discovered that he could fight for big races.

In 2015, the rider kicked off his season with victories in the Tour of the Basque Country and the Tour de Suisse -where he beat local hero Fabian Cancellara- and despite a crash that took him out of the Tour de France, he started in the Vuelta a España and showed the world of cycling a bit more of his abilities.

The Dutchman started attacking on climbs from the second day, and he kept showing his strength at every opportunity that he got, which allowed him to wear the leader's jersey for six stages -his last day being the one before the penultimate stage when he lost several minutes on the climbs to the eventual winner of the race Fabio Aru- and made him the most combative rider of the entire competition.

After this successful season, the 2016 had no shortage of high points, with top-three results in the prologues of races like Paris-Nice and the Tour de Romandie. With his eye on the time trial of Rio 2016, the rider started in the Giro d'Italia, where he won the opening fight against the clock in Apeldoorn, the Netherlands, and withdrew in the eleventh stage.

After winning the ITT in his country's championships and finishing a good participation in the Tour de France -where he took two victories and had to retire with a broken wrist- he was as ready as he could be after the injury to face the fight against the clock in the Olympics. The rider finished in the second position after Cancellara and couldn't hide his disappointment even on the podium.

At the time he said: "Everyone now tells me to smile, but I can't just do it because gold was always the goal."

His good spell continued the next year with his overall victory in the Giro d'Italia, which happened after he wore the Pink Jersey for nine stages, lost it to Nairo Quintana and retook it on the time trial of the last stage in Milano. The rider closed his season by becoming the time trial World Champion in Bergen, Norway.

The 2018 season, Dumoulin was second on the final podium of the Giro d'Italia, the Tour de France and the time trial of the World Championships, and was still considered one of the favourites for the Grand Tours. But this changed the season after, as he didn't get any victories heading to the Giro d'Italia, where he crashed on the fourth stage and badly injured his knee.

He tried to return to racing at the Criterium du Dauphine, but he stated that he wasn't able to completely recover from the hit and finished his season on the spot. That winter, the rider moved to Jumbo-Visma, a team of his country.

The 2021 season was discreet for the rider as the world of cycling dealt with the Covid pandemic, and he started without big results in the Tour de France, the World Championships and the Vuelta a España.

But at the start of the 2021 season and after the team had already outlined his season, the Dutchman announced a surprising break from cycling to focus on himself and his mental health, leaving the door open to never returning again to the road. "I have been feeling for quite a while that it is very difficult for me to know how to find my way as Tom Dumoulin the cyclist. With the pressure that comes with it, with the expectations of different parties.

"I just want to do very well for very many people. I want the team to be happy with me. I want the sponsors to be happy. I want my wife and my family to be happy. And so I want to do well for everyone, but because of that I have forgotten myself a bit in the past year. What do I want? Do I still want to be a rider. And how?"

The Tour de Suisse saw his return and after finishing fifth in the individual time trial, he appeared at the Dutch national championships, where he took the ITT title. Then the rider set his goal to the fight against the clock of Tokyo 2020, where he finished in the second position but this time, he celebrated and cried like if he had taken gold.

"It was my goal to get a medal today," he said. "The past months I really had no idea if that would be possible or not. I tried to enjoy the process as much as possible and it worked out really well. The time trial itself went really well. In the first lap I felt very strong.

"In the second, I felt the energy slowly draining away. In the last ten kilometres I was able to regain that power. Silver was the highest achievable today and for me this is a medal with a golden edge."

After struggling with the idea of himself as a cyclist for months, the rider has found an answer on his road to the Olympic silver. "I will continue cycling," he said to the media. "That is what I have decided in recent weeks.

"I really like it this way. I still think cycling is a very cool sport." And for the fans, journalists and other people involved in the sport it is good to see him smiling again and surely many want to say: Welcome back, Tom.





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