Tom Dumoulin abandons Vuelta a España to focus on 2021

Dutchman abandons citing fatigue, leaving teammate Primož Roglič one man short in red jersey defense.

Photo: Getty Images

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Tom Dumoulin has abandoned the Vuelta a España ahead of stage 8 on Wednesday.

“Both our coaching staff and I think it is the best choice to get off the bike,” Dumoulin confirmed Wednesday morning. “At the start of the Vuelta, I already felt tired and that feeling remained. It makes no sense for me to continue because then I might put a strain on next season. It is not desirable to leave the Vuelta, but this is the right choice. We can all agree on that.”

Dumoulin struggled through the Vuelta so far after coming into the 18-stage race as a co-leader with Jumbo-Visma teammate Primož Roglič. The Dutchman fell out of GC contention as early as stage 2, losing over eight minutes in the hilly stage to Lekunberri.

Since then, the 29-year-old has continued to slide down the classification. He rolled into Villanueva de Valdegovia on Tuesday off the pace of the GC group to finish up 53rd overall, admitting he was tired, disappointed and despondent but committed to helping Roglič.

Though being off-form, the former Giro d’Italia champ still had the legs to protect his Slovenian teammate, and his exit marks a major loss for the team as they look to recoup losses incurred on a tough day to Formigal on Sunday.

“It is a pity that Tom is going home. Every day we monitored his fatigue and it kept increasing,” said team sport director Merijn Zeeman. “Despite this, he played an important part in the team and did a good job.”

Jumbo-Visma sport director Frans Maessen said Dumoulin played a huge role in helping Roglič in Sunday’s cold and rainy stage to Formigal.

“Maybe he saved the Vuelta for Primož on Sunday,” Maessen said. “Tom did an important turn when Primož was back with the problem with his rain jacket. It was because of Tom and George [Bennett] that Primož was able to rejoin the front group. Maybe that was his last effort, but it was an important one.”

Dumoulin’s 2020 has perhaps not gone as he hoped.

The Dutchman started the summer season strong after 14 months off the bike as he made a much-hyped comeback from injuries and illness, before fading. In a similar trajectory to his path at this Vuelta, Dumoulin had started the Tour de France as co-leader with Roglič before losing his legs mid-way to fall back as superdomestique for his Slovenian teammate.

Dumoulin and Jumbo-Visma are now turning their eyes to 2021.

“Although his short participation in the Vuelta has been a good investment for 2021, we now see that we are encountering limits and we take the responsibility that comes with it,” Zeeman said.

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