De Gendt in the break during stage 4 Tour Down Under
Lotto Soudal rider awarded with most combative rider award.
One month after his memorable stage win at Volta a Catalunya Thomas De Gendt has conquered another magnificent victory. This time he soloed to victory on the second stage of Tour de Romandie!
Pretty soon after the start of the stage in Delémont five riders escaped the bunch; among those riders Victor Campenaerts and Thomas De Gendt. The Lotto Soudal duo was accompanied by Nathan Brown, Matteo Fabbro and Andriy Grivko. The break got more than seven minutes advantage. After first Fabbro had been distanced due to a mechanical, Grivko was dropped uphill; that way only Brown was left at the side of Campenaerts and De Gendt. A few kilometres after the first crossing of the finish line in Yverdon-les-Bains, which was the start of one lap of 34.3 kilometres, Campenaerts had to let go of his companions. About five kilometres further De Gendt left Brown behind. The peloton was no threat anymore by that time. De Gendt finished solo, with 2’04” advantage over Sonny Colbrelli who beat Samuel Dumoulin in the sprint for the second place. After today’s breakaway De Gendt is the new owner of the sprint jersey, and he was also awarded the prize of the most combative rider of the day.
Thomas De Gendt: “I did arrive solo at the finish today, but this victory is also the merit of Victor. He went out of his way to make sure I had as much advantage as possible. Originally it was our plan to warm up the legs for tomorrow’s time trial. Our advantage kept rising and that was mainly due to the work of Victor and me, because our companions didn’t go full. During the climb at less than seventy kilometres from the end, Victor told me we would draw my card.”
“I felt very good today and when we had almost eight minutes advantage, I felt it was possible to win. We definitely didn’t just get that lead from the bunch, that was all our own merit. When we had about three minutes advantage, the peloton wanted to start controlling the gap and still we got more and more advantage. I definitely wanted to aim for six minutes lead. We kept on riding full gas and didn’t give up, we just would see where it would take us. And it turned out well. I hear that they rode very fast in the bunch and still I had two minutes advantage left at the finish.”
“As soon as I feel the victory is within reach I want to keep up my own pace. After Victor had done a few last pulls, he got distanced in the local lap. Brown was still making a good impression and I wanted to test him. I immediately got a small gap and I decided to continue on my own, even though it was still a long way to the finish. We had done a recon of the local lap on Monday, so I knew what was coming. At that moment I still had about three minutes advantage, enough to remain ahead. I knew I didn’t need to go full anymore, but because of the headwind and the long break the way to the finish was still long.”
“I had made a goal of this Tour de Romandie. I chose not to ride the Ardennes Classics to be fresh for this race. In the past I never had a good feeling here and I wanted to change that. Last week I went on a training camp and that way I prepared for this race. I am in excellent shape. It’s nice for the team that we could also win a stage in this WorldTour race. I’ll see tomorrow how I feel for the time trial. Today was already a four-hour time trial for me (laughs). If all goes well I can end up on top twenty tomorrow, I have more chances in the stages this weekend.”