De Gendt king of the mountain after second place in Paris-Nice


Lotto Soudal rider Thomas De Gendt finished second in the fourth stage of Paris-Nice, covered between Vichy and Pélussin. He was part of a thirteen-rider breakaway, of which four battled for the victory. Cort Nielsen eventually took the stage win ahead of De Gendt, who gained enough points to take over the mountains jersey.

Thomas De Gendt: "I did not really intent to go for a stage win today, but at the team meeting this morning, the sports director said he wanted someone to be in the breakaway. I gave it a try and that appeared to be the right decision, because we managed to stay ahead. It was important that all thirteen riders would work together. That was the case, as everyone did their part of the job. We agreed to ride at a fast pace towards the hill zone and after that, we would see who would remain and what our advantage would be. With 40 kilometres to go, we still had a nice gap and then I began to believe in a possible stage win.”

“At less than one kilometre to the finish, Cort Nielsen took the lead and I wanted De Marchi to take his wheel, getting myself in third position for the sprint. But De Marchi looked at me and he stopped for a moment. Cort Nielsen saw he had a small gap and he started to sprint already. I tried to jump on his wheel, but he was too strong. He is an extremely good rider and he probably would have beaten us in a sprint anyway. The first one to attack from such a small group, is mostly lost. So I hoped someone else would go, but that did not happen.”

“Taking over the mountains jersey was not something I was aiming for ahead of this stage. On the first two hills, I did not sprint to save my legs for a possible stage win. I did however take some points and I was the first to cross the final climbs as well. It certainly is a consolation prize for me today. We will see how it goes, but a stage win still is the most important goal for the team. The day after tomorrow, we will do our utmost again to win with Caleb Ewan.”

The opening stage of Tirreno-Adriatico today was a team time trial of 21.5 kilometres in Lido di Camaiore. Lotto Soudal achieved an excellent sixth place. They finished 54 seconds behind the winning team Mitchelton-Scott. Victor Campenaerts reacts to this great team performance.

Victor Campenaerts: “A sixth place in the team time trial of Tirreno-Adriatico is for sure a result we would have been happy with beforehand. Lotto Soudal does not really have a big team time trial tradition but thanks to Kevin De Weert who joined the team, we have been working on it really hard and that is already paying off now. The puncture halfway the team time trial seriously thwarted our plans but we still managed to finish sixth. The first teams have taken quite an advantage in the general classification but we are satisfied with the result today. My trainer called the team time trial a kind of ‘midterm’ and I think I passed that intermediate test. I am happy with the way I felt today.”