"I ripped my stomach open" - Tom Dumoulin details the 'scariest' crash of his career

Tom Dumoulin was one of the best Dutch riders in recent years, becoming a rare Grand Tour winner for the flat European nation; a time-trial World Champion and rider who is commonly known for his 'Stelvio incident'. However there is one incident that has marked his career more, where a crash at the Vuelta a Espana left him fearing death and with a severe cut in his stomach.

"...In a previous Vuelta I experienced a very nasty crash there. On the way to Andorra we came across the climb, or actually the descent where I fell very hard," Dumoulin said in the Renze show on RTL. "I hit the crash barrier as a first-year pro, at the age of twenty, and I ripped my stomach open. I fell over the crash barrier and climbed back up. And then it was red, and my stomach was hanging open. And I still find it a bit difficult, I notice.”

The Dutch rider was at the time 21 years old and was racing his first Grand Tour in Spain - for Argos-Shimano team, which would then become Team Sunweb. Still a novice in the Elite peloton, but he suffered a crash which came as a consequence of a mistake by another roder.

“I was riding behind another guy and he misjudged the bend. He just held his own bend, but I came behind him with more speed and I had no chance. And during my career I have always been afraid of being on someone's wheel," he says. "When I was riding in front or in a time trial, I could go down like a cannon. But as soon as I was on someone's wheel, I always felt afraid. Apparently that is a kind of trauma, because otherwise I wouldn't be emotional about it now."

“That moment itself made a huge impression on me. Because I thought I was going to die there. So yes... I have been afraid my entire career after that. I have always been afraid on a descent," Dumoulin admits. Still, despite this flaw in his arsenal, he was able to go on to achieve massive success in a sport where descending and taking risks on the bike is constant and crucial. But that injury has always left Dumoulin, who retired in 2022, afraid of something similar happening.

"There is still a big 'gash' in my stomach, but I was very lucky then. My stomach was open and a lot of blood came out, but it was a matter of stapling. I was very lucky that nothing was hit internally. But I felt very lonely there, when I was there. I still find it hard to watch falls, and I also hope that my child doesn't become a cyclist," he shares.

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