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Five fascinating facts about Tom Dumoulin

Tom Dumoulin at the 2015 Tour de France team presentation

Tom Dumoulin at the 2015 Tour de France team presentation, by bert de boer, Licence CC BY 2.0

Dutch rider Tom Dumoulin (Team Giant Alpecin) came to prominence during the 2015 Vuelta a Espana. He moved into the overall lead after stage 5, when he was fifteenth on the day, two seconds behind stage winner Caleb Ewan (Orica Greenedge), and crucially eight seconds ahead of the previous red jersey Esteban Chaves (Orica Greenedge). 

Dumoulin didn't realise he had taken the red jersey, according to this report in Cycling News, and had to be called back to the podium from his team bus. Reflecting on the talent which had brought him to the race lead, he said he still sees himself as a time triallist, but '...I'm starting to climb very well too. It's all progressing, and who knows what my limits are?'

It represented a change in fortune for Dumoulin after the 2015 Tour de France, which started in the Netherlands. Dumoulin (below right) is pictured at the Utrecht team presentation, with Koen de Kort, in this tweet:

He had been hoping to win the Stage 1 time trial in Utrecht, but could only manage fourth place. Then on Stage 3, he dislocated his shoulder in the big crash which also ended Fabian Cancellara's Tour, and had to abandon the race.

Dumoulin recovered faster than expected from the injury, but at the Vuelta, he still had limited movement in his left shoulder. He kept his food and gels in the middle and right back pockets of his jersey, because he had difficulty in reaching the back left pocket.

Dumoulin has been a professional cyclist since 2011. Here are five facts about Tom Dumoulin.

1) 5 Facts about Tom Dumoulin: hometown and family

Dumoulin is from Maastricht, in Limburg Province, in the south of the Netherlands (but was planning to move over the border to Kanne, Belgium in summer 2015). His father is the head of the IVF department at a teaching hospital in Maastricht, and his mother works in local government. They are supportive of their son's career, and often watch him race, but they've never been interested in bike racing, according to cyclingonline.nl.

2) 5 Facts about Tom Dumoulin: nickname, the butterfly of Maastricht

Dumoulin's nickname is the butterfly of Maastricht (de Vlinder van Maastricht), although he doesn't like it very much. It refers to his natural grace and elegance, and his ability, as a new professional, to excel while appearing to be without a care in the world.

3) 5 Facts about Tom Dumoulin: cycling talent and career

Tom Dumoulin in Dutch national time trial champion's jersey

Tom Dumoulin during a time trial at the 2015 Paris-Nice, by denismenchov08, Licence CC BY-SA 4.0

Dumoulin only started bike racing at the age of 15 - before that, his main sport was football. His professional cycling career started in 2011. Many of his best results are in individual time trials: he was Dutch national time trial champion in 2014, and again in 2016, and took the bronze medal in the 2014 World Championships, behind Bradley Wiggins and Tony Martin. He also won two time trial stages in the 2015 Tour de Suisse, including the Prologue where he beat Cancellara:

His talent isn't confined to time trials. He won the mountains classification in the 2013 Vuelta a Andalucia, and the points classification in the 2014 Eneco Tour.

4) 5 Facts about Tom Dumoulin: he texts his girlfriend before a race

Dumoulin has a pre-race ritual of texting his girlfriend, Thanee Van Hulst, before he begins his final preparation for the day's event, according to wielerflits.nl. 'I find it important that she knows how I feel and that she wishes me luck. I often wait for her reply. And if she doesn't reply straight away, then I check my phone again just before the start. If I don't get a message, then I don't think that I'm going to perform less well, but it is nice just to read that text, it's something I like to do.'

5) 5 Facts about Tom Dumoulin: he believes in sports psychology

Tom Dumoulin sees the value of sports psychologists. In May 2015, in advance of the Tour de France, he told The Limburger Daily Newspaper that he tends to have negative thoughts before a time trial. 'Am I still capable of doing a good ride? What if I puncture? That sort of thing. Previously, I didn't see the value of talking with a psychologist, but now I look at it differently, mainly because there's a lot more weight on my shoulders. My girlfriend is a psychologist and she is looking for a suitable sports pschologist with whom I can work.'

Is Tom Dumoulin doping?

No, there's no evidence that Tom Dumoulin is doping, and it seems highly unlikely.

Because of cycling's history, the first question which pops into the average cycling fan's head after a rider produces an exceptional performance is, has this rider been doping? When Dumoulin won Stage 9 of the Vuelta a Espana 2015, on the final climb, some people wondered how he managed to beat lighter riders, and those with a better climbing pedigree. Esteban Chavez, who lost his red jersey to Dumoulin, used the word 'unbelievable' about five times in his post-race interview, in respect of Dumoulin, but of course he may not have intended any negative implication.

The performance seems believable, however. The climb was relatively short (about 4km), and Dumoulin put in his attacks on the flatter sections, not the steeper parts. He was also fresher than many of his rivals, having crashed out of the Tour de France on Stage 3. He seeemed genuinely surprised when asked about doping, and released his data after the race.

It's worth bearing in mind, too, that Dumoulin weighs 69kg, according to ProCyclingStats - about the same as Chris Froome.

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Tom Dumoulin at the 2015 Utrecht Tour de France time trial, by Rob Schleiffert, Licence CC BY-SA 2.0

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