More and more riders decide to quit their careers due to the psychological crisis and the pressures of racing.

Dumoulin during a mountain climbing at Tour de France 2020. Photo: Reuters

Dumoulin during a mountain climbing at Tour de France 2020. Photo: Reuters

At the end of January 2021, Tom Dumoulin suddenly announced his farewell to cycling and immediately left the training camp of the Jumbo-Visma team. The Dutch racer announced his decision shortly after being assigned the team leader position at Tour de France 2021. In the top cycling village, Dumoulin won the Giro d’Italia Rose Shirt, won many Tour de France and is being assigned by Jumbo-Visma the position of the Tour de France this year. But he decided to stop everything.

And Dumoulin was not the first crab to give up the game after suffering psychological turmoil.

As a cyclist, Spanish racer Martín Bouzas saw himself in Dumoulin’s image. He wants to be like the Dutch idol, and not inferior to Dumoulin in terms of terms. Bouzas is as tall as Dumoulin – nearly 1.90m, with a lanky physique, a calm look like nothing, also won a race in Spain when he was young and knew how to maintain his toughness. match.

“I see pictures of him cycling and comparing to me. I find similarities in the gestures we do. And …”, he said in a sarcastic voice, tinged with melancholy. When it comes to both leaving their careers early, “look, Dumoulin is imitating me now.”

A few days ago, at his home in the city of Rois in the province of Coruña, while preparing for his in-service exam, Bouzas read the news: When he took his leave, Dumoulin told the team leader that he had been thinking for a few months. . The Dutch crab gave up on his bicycle because he didn’t know if he really wanted to continue and just said it, Dumoulin felt like he had dropped the weight of a weight off his shoulder. That night, after a long time, Dumoulin fell into a gentle sleep.

“That’s exactly what I felt when I said to team leader Juanjo Oroz and my coach Iosune Murillo. I couldn’t take it anymore, I pondered for a long time, I really wanted to give up racing. “Playing now is not fun, but hell. There will come a time when you feel enough,” says Bouzas.

Bouzas lives in a “kingdom” where athletes live with the motto of “welcoming the pressure”, explains Ramón Cid, a track and field coach. Cid reiterated, the elite riders did everything when they were young to get this pressure.

Bouzas on the race track of a young tournament in Spain during his time.  Photo: Lizarte Team

Bouzas on the race track of a young tournament in Spain during his time. Image: Lizarte Team

Both Director Oroz and Coach Murillo understood the reason and congratulated Bouzas on his decision to stop at the age of 22. They know, cyclists only realize how painful they are at the end of their careers. In the world of highly competitive sport, athletes who are confused in their careers will be classified by their coach as: “Weak spirit” or “Unbearable pressure”. The coach seeks to help athletes by meeting them with sports psychologists. The sole purpose is to help the athlete find maximum performance.

However, biologists argue that coaches are never fully aware of an athlete’s body and that fatigue is the primary cause of fatigue. As in the case of Alberto Contador, his mentality and fatigue affected him. He has won all three Grand Tours – twice the Tour de France, two near Giro d’Italia and three times Vuelta à Espana, but he still retired before age 33.

In addition to the pressure, the top athletes are always demanding change and step out of their comfort zone. Sports psychologist Pablo del Río explains: “It’s a world where athletes are admired for winning, not for their personality or way of life. Many believe that if they don’t win, the audience will. stop loving me and get overwhelmed “.

Neither Bouzas nor Dumoulin were the first to decide to give up racing. Before that, Julián Gorospe, Igor Anton … also made a similar choice and all expressed, they felt relieved as if they were relieved on their shoulders. The obligation to win scared many people. Gorospe lost the Vuelta à Espana 1983 Yellow Shirt to Bernard Hinault, but admitted feeling comfortable after a moment of losing. Anton even celebrates after falling at the foot of the Peña Cabarga Pass in Vuelta à Espana in 2010. The incident caused him to lose his Red Shirt, but later Anton confessed that night he slept like never before.

Adrien Costa – an American young man born in 1997, has won two world youth silver medals – is another example. He has big ambitions and frantically plunges into training sessions at the age of 19. But in April 2017, at the age of 20, Adrien Costa announced that he would quit cycling.

Marcel Kittel, a great German driver, has won 19 stages in Grand Tours, won bronze medal at the Grand Tour … He retired in 2019, at the age of 31. “I am exhausted, both physically and mentally. I am not happy, nor do I know who I am,” the German racer recalls a time of emotional crisis.

Why are more and more athletes giving up on top racing? On average, more than 80 racing days a year leaves them no time to think. Life is a series of repetitive and stressful moments that are always ready to swallow the crabs.

The pressure to win because of the public's expectation made the crabs like Kittel (pictured) gradually exhausted, losing their joy in training and competition.  Photo: Tour de France

The pressure to win because of the public’s expectation made the crabs like Kittel (pictured) gradually exhausted, losing their joy in training and competition. Image: Tour de France

“It feels great when I finally decide to spend some time with myself. I find it difficult as racer Tom Dumoulin – with it comes the pressure and expectations of many people. Good for everyone I want the team to be satisfied I want the sponsors to be satisfied I want my wife and family to be happy … But I forgot myself What do I want? Not and racing for what? “, Dumoulin said as he retired.

Bouzas sometimes had to look for psychologists because he thought his perfectionism wasn’t suitable for cycling. And perfectionism eventually turns into an obsession. “I think about everything, don’t know how to stop. Psychologists don’t help. Fear of not being able to win, pressure that I put on, pressure from outside, of people. I was supposed to be happy when it came to the Spanish youth timers, but I felt like hell. “

And on the day that Bouzas decided to stop, he began to sleep in peace, just like Tom Dumoulin.

Thuy Lien (follow El Pais)

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