De Gendt wins in Saint-Etienne!
Epic performance from De Gendt!
The opening stage in the Volta a Catalunya, with start and finish in Calella, contained no less than five climbs. Thomas De Gendt was part of the breakaway, which he finished off with an amazing solo. The Lotto Soudal rider took the stage win two minutes and 38 seconds ahead of the bunch. He is now leader in the general classification, as well as the points and mountains classification. De Gendt recalls on his tremendous victory, which is his fourth ever in Catalonia.
Thomas De Gendt: “I absolutely wanted to be in the breakaway today to aim for the stage win. I tried to take the mountains jersey as well, but I did not want to waste too much energy on this. The peloton quickly brought down our bonus to two minutes, but I did not panic. The hardest part was yet to come, being a short and steep hill. I was riding at a very high pace there, hoping the strongest would survive, but only Luis Maté was able to follow. However, he could not take the lead anymore and he just stayed in my wheel until the next hill, the Coll Formic. Because I knew Maté really was at his limit, I attacked again and he had to let go.”
“From there on I was on my own, but I knew the descent very well due to my experience from the previous editions. I knew what was ahead of me, thus I could anticipate with my watts. Some parts I did at a higher pace than others. It was to my advantage that I have covered the final 40 kilometres already seven times. Each year during the weeks of Paris-Nice and the Volta a Catalunya, I am in great shape. I always look forward to this period. In Paris-Nice my shape went only upwards, so I felt excellent. Because of the calm week that followed, I presumed to perform even better in Catalonia.”
“On the first day, there is no GC leader yet, so then it is difficult to find a team willing to lead the chase. For the sprinters it was a bit too tough today and I responded well to that. On top of that, I think the GC riders will not care too much about me. The two uphill finishes could make me lose fifteen minutes, so it does not really matter that I am two minutes ahead now. Tomorrow I should keep the leader’s jersey, but I suppose I will not be able to follow the top riders on the next day.”
Because of the calm week that followed on Paris-Nice, I presumed to perform even better in Catalonia.