Rider type: Stage racer
Biggest success: 1. Triptyque des Monts et Chateaux
Team 2011: Rabobank Continental Team
Team 2012: Skil
Best Mock List ranking: 33. (2010)
Tom Dumoulin actually should have been in the pro ranks this year. His contract with Cervelo was fixed, when the Cervelo team suddenly merged with Garmin. Since the team was totally full, Dumoulin couldn't fit in. Despite his good performancs, he was unable to find another pro team, perhaps because they too were already full, perhaps because he had gone into the season as a Nobody and still hadn't built up his status after one good U-23 year.
Status is important, as can also be seen in the Mock List. The Limburgers finally caught on with the Mini Rabos. There he put in a season very similar to the previous one, showing that he was not a one-year wonder. This knowledge – and the status which came with it – moved the stage racer up from 33rd place last year to this year's top 15.
The season started very flat. He rode unnoticed in the Driedaagse van West Vlaanderen (2.1), and then finished second in the hilliest stage of the Tour de Normandie (2.2). He also moved up to overall leader. This lasted only one day, then on the next stage he lost 24 seconds, finishing in the second field on a flat stage.
Things got hillier again the beginning of April, as the Mini Rabo rode the Triptyque Monts et Chatueaux (2.2) and proved himself on the first stage. Tom Duomulin finished second behind van der Sand in the sprint of an elite five-rider group which also included Laengen. He came back in the short time trial in the next stage; he took back the overall lead with an eighth place which he successfully held on to for the next two stages, despite their challenging profiles.
Two weeks later the U-23 Lüttich-Bastone-Lüttich (1.2U) took place. Here, too, the 20-year-old made it into the elite group, which sprinted for the victory. Tosh van der Sande was again the fastest, with Dumoulin finished eighth out of ten.
After several – again flat – 1.2 races in the Netherlands, came his first season highlight. Taylor Phinney had won the Olympia's Tour the year before, the first time since 2002 that a Mini Rabo had not won the race, so this year the winner had to come again from the orange-and-blue brigade. Tom Dumoulin and Jetse Bol were the top candidates. After the flat stages, on which Bol gathered several seconds, Dumoulin had fallen to second candidate. The major problem was the two Jayco Australians Hepburn and Durbridge, who at the time trial had built up a lead of several seconds going into the closing stage. A solution had to be found – and it was found.
Early in the race, the Mini Rabos attacked with Bol, Dumoulin and Ramon Sinkeldam on Eyserbosweg. Only Ludvigsson and Jack Bauer could follow. For more than 60 kilometers, they were chased by the peloton, in which Durbridge and Hepburn were soon isolated, and the lead group stayed away until the end. Bol was the fastest, and Dumoulin finished the race in third place.
The Thüringen-Rundfahrt presented the Limburger with a similar problem: the Jayco Australians won the team time trial and had to be knocked out of the top place – and with Kelderman, there was another rider in Dumoulin's own team who was higher in the hierarchy than he was. His third place in the individual time trial gave him third place overall and presumably a feeling of satisfaction.
Which only makes it suprising that Dumoulin will not ride for the big Rabos in 2012. In the last years the Mini Rabo stage racers have all developed well at the pro ranks. Instead of turning pro with Rabobank, he went with Skil. They signed him at a point when they were seriously looking for a ProTour licence, so it remains to be hoped that Dumoulin will not again be disappointed by a new team. At the World Championships, he would surely be one to watch as the best finisher from last year, but it is unknown whether he will even ride. The Dutch have a lot of good time triallists on a similar level and Tom Dumoulin was only seventh in the national title race.
At the Tour de l'Avenir Dumoulin was especially able to shine at the tim trial, where he finished third, being the best non-Australian rider.
Nominated by ogkempf, written by ogkempf, translated by Tick