De Gendt in the break during stage 4 Tour Down Under
Lotto Soudal rider awarded with most combative rider award.
Thomas De Gendt has taken over the lead in the KOM classification at La Vuelta. He was part of a breakaway of 26 riders in the seventeenth stage from Getxo to Balcón de Bizkaia. The Lotto Soudal rider arrived first at the top of five climbs, only at the final climb he didn’t take any points. De Gendt collected seventeen points and now has a total of 74 points. De Gendt has ten points more than Luis Ángel Maté, who led the classification until today. Bauke Mollema is third in the ranking, with fourteen points less than De Gendt. De Gendt got 34th on today’s stage, at 5’26” of stage winner Michael Woods.
Thomas De Gendt: “Mission accomplished today and I am very happy with that. At the start of the stage I remained at the back of the bunch to make sure I wouldn’t waste any energy by joining any moves on the first flat kilometres. As we were approaching the top of the first climb, I moved up towards the front of the pack. I crossed the top first and soon after the break was established. There were many strong riders in our group and I knew this was the break of the day. We immediately cooperated well and from then on it was my goal to get first to the top of the next climbs, that’s why I tried to save some energy at first.”
“Two of Maté’s teammates were part of the front group and I expected they would try to make it difficult for me. I wanted to discourage them by sprinting at the end of the second climb and it worked. I knew that the steep last kilometres of the last climb would be too tough for me. I followed as long as I could, but still got dropped before the steepest part. I had already done a lot of pulling on the previous climbs, so my companions wouldn’t want to attack.”
“Now it’s all about defending my jersey on Saturday. That will be the most important day in the battle for the KOM jersey. I now have some advantage over my opponents and that’s always good of course. I think Mollema and King (4th with 56 points, LTS) will be my most dangerous opponents. Maté, who’s now second in the KOM classification, has been ill for a few days now. Maybe he can recover the next two days and take part in the battle on Saturday. It would be great if the four of us would all be in the break and we have to sprint for the points on each climb.”
Jelle Vanendert finished fourth at Grand Prix de Wallonie today. It was Jasper Stuyven who won the sprint of a small front group, ahead of Dimitri Claeys and Warren Barguil.