Thursday, August 16, 2012

Vuelta Interview - Thomas de Gendt

Thomas De Gendt winning Stage 7 of
Paris-Nice after an impressive solo effort.
Thomas De Gendt took the cycling world by surprise when he ended 3rd overall in the Giro d'Italia earlier this year. Originally Vuelta España was the Belgian's target this season, but it seems like the Giro podium cost him too much energy in order to repeat the performance in Spain.

Thomas, first of all, congratulation on your marriage and your amazing performance in Giro d’Italia. Now when it’s been some months, have you realized what you actually did back in May?
I haven’t really thought about it. I got a lot of attention from the media and from the other riders and of course a lot of attention from the people in Belgium. I can see in the way that I’m not being allowed to attack much anymore. I tried to attack really hard in Eneco Tour, but even though I was way down in the general classification I was never allowed more than a 100 meters gap. I guess that is the impact of what I did in the Giro.

I know you had been working hard to peak in the Giro this year, but since you never really had been going for the GC in a Grand Tour before it was more like a trial-run for the Vuelta. Do you think you can make another podium in Spain?
I don’t really aim for the GC now. It’s true that I went to the Giro to use it as a trial-run for the Vuelta, but since I was up there in the GC I had to dig deep in the last week. So even though I had the Vuelta as my goal I’ve actually already got my podium spot this year and that cost me a lot of energy. Therefore I don’t know if I will be able to go hard in another Grand Tour this year already. And to be honest, I don’t feel as good right now as I did just before the Giro.

Like Contador you used Eneco Tour as warm-up for the Vuelta. Are you satisfied with the answers you got?
Not at all. The first days were very difficult for me and even though I got stronger during the race I never really felt good. I decided not to finish the race in order to save some energy for the Belgian National Time Trial, but that didn’t went the way I wanted it either. I didn’t feel I had any power in my legs and I’m really disappointed with my performance.

Looking at the route for the Vuelta, what do you think about it? Does it suit you?
I haven’t really checked out any stages, but I know there are some uphill finishes already in the first week. Personally I’m happy that the stages are shorter than in the other Grand Tours. Short but hard, just like I want it. Still, I will just take it day by day and make a status after the first week. As I said the GC isn’t really a goal for me from the beginning so I won’t cry if I’ve already lost a couple of minutes after the first stages.

Alberto Contador is the big favorite for the overall win. Do you think anyone can beat him without any bad luck?
I think we can already name the winner. Contador will win this Vuelta, but I think Froome will be up there too. He might be tired after the Tour, but I expect him to be in the mix. The last guy I see for the podium is Rodriguez. I don’t really think there will be any other riders able to follow these three.

What do you think about the Vacansoleil-DCM team for the race. Anyone specific we should keep an extra eye on?
I think Pim Ligthart. He has a very good sprint after a hard stage and there should be a lot of stages that suits him well in this Vuelta.

Last one. What is most important for you in this Vuelta;  a stage win or Top10 in the GC?
I would say a stage win, but then again it depends on place in the Top10. There is a big difference in being number 4 or being number 9 for example. If a Top10 spot means being 2nd, 3rd or 4th I would pick that over winning a stage, but compared to ending 10th overall I would take the stage win right away.

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