Thomas De Gendt and Tim Wellens have been forced to delay ‘The Breakaway 2’, their post-season adventure ride, after a number of unfortunate incidents befell the Lotto-Soudal pair.
De Gendt became sick after returning from the Shanghai Criterium and Wellens’ bike was damaged in transit. The region of Spain they planned to ride through, the Serrania de Cuenca nature park between Madrid and Valencia, has also experienced early snowfall, blighting their planned route.
“How I got sick was from a migraine attack, perhaps from tiredness,” De Gendt told Het Nieuwsblad. “I have just returned from the Shanghai Criterium and due to jet lag I have slept very little the past few nights. It was a day of headaches and vomiting.”
Wellens and De Gendt also found a second problem when they arrived at Valencia airport. “Tim’s bicycle was damaged,” said De Gendt. “The handlebars were folded back against the top tube for transport and the carbon was hit there.”
Their planned cycle through the Montanas Vacias, referred to as ‘Spanish Lapland’, had seen unexpected snowfall, making the journey more difficult due to the plummetting temperatures.
“There is already snow on many mountain tops,” De Gendt added. “We underestimated that. This trip had been ideal at the end of October or beginning of November but it is already extremely cold now.”
The duo nonetheless met at Valencia airport on Wednesday to decide how they would proceed with their second annual post-season trip, where they decided they wouldn’t have to cancel their ride entirely.
“I usually get better after one day, so my illness should be resolved quickly,” De Gendt said. “In addition, bicycle manufacturer Ridley are going to quickly send Tim a new bicycle. It should be here by Friday.”
They will still head to Serrania de Cuenca but not scale the highest peaks to avoid the snow.
“The intention is to start on Saturday and follow an adjusted course, without the highest peaks,” explained De Gendt. “We will start the first trip in Teruel as planned, but we will drive a little further to the arrival place of ride three. From Sunday we can follow the route as planned. We certainly want to make something of it, but it won’t be a pleasure trip anymore.”
Last year, the Belgians completed a 1000km adventure ride, which they called The Final Breakaway, making their way home from Il Lombardia to Flanders. They spent six days trekking across Europe and were set back by only two punctures, one striking five kilometres from home.