Thomas De Gendt, Alessandro De Marchi, Rein Taaramae: meet with these specialists long escapes in the mountains, which attack as soon as the road rises.
In a cycling that has had the skin of the plain fighters, the mountain has become the last refuge of the daring, a space of freedom that benefited the Belgians Dylan Teuns and Thomas De Gendt by winning in the first steep stages of this Tour de France. The world met three specialists of the genre, including De Gendt, before his stage victory on Saturday 13 July.
Thomas De Gendt, 32, Lotto-Soudal. Stage winner on the three big rounds.
He had already won on the Tour de France, at the top of Mont Ventoux in 2016, but nobody remembers: the feat had been eclipsed by the run of Chris Froome in the ascent, pending a change of bike that was not done. Nobody, among those who saw it, will forget his second victory on Saturday July 13 through the mountains of Lyonnais and Forez: 200 kilometers of breakaway, fierce resistance, and six seconds ahead in Saint-Etienne . A victory like we no longer do.
The guy does not hold up in a pack: 26 breakaways in 2018 – he keeps the accounts himself – for two wins, 13 this year, for two victories too. Low success rate? What does it matter, that's it or nothing: "I'm not good enough sprint, not good enough in the mountains, not good enough against the clock. The only way for me to win races is to take the breakaways. "
At the beginning of his career, he was promised a track record in the overall rankings of the grand tours. "I finished 3e of the Tour of Italy (in 2012). The year after, I played the general in the Tour de France. After three steps, I was 40 minutes late. With stress, I made a lot of mistakes, I was caught in falls, I was not good enough. " Thomas De Gendt moves on.
" Anyway, he continues, at best, I could reach between the 10e and the 15e Place of the Tour de France. And I would have to sacrifice a lot of races to get my peak shape at the right time, knowing that if you do that, you can never win. A 7e place here, an 8e place there, 12e in general, this is not the kind of record I want. "
The discipline and concentration necessary to compete with the general are unbearable to him, and his constitution would not allow him: "I am 7% fat. The guys who play the general are around 5%. I would have to lose weight, but that would not be good for my health. " Not to mention the boredom of spending his days riding in a group.