Lotto-Soudal down to just two riders at the Giro d'Italia 2021 after Thomas De Gendt abandons

The team have struggled with injuries since Caleb Ewan left the race

Thomas De Gendt at the Giro d'Italia 2021
(Image credit: Tim de Waele/Getty Images)

Belgian squad Lotto-Soudal are now down to just two riders at the Giro d'Italia as Thomas De Gendt is the latest member of the squad to leave the race.

De Gendt, usually in multiple breakaways in Grand Tours, hasn't been able to get up the road at all due to pain in his knee. His abandonment means that only Stefano Oldani and Harm Vanhoucke remain in the race.

De Gendt tweeted this morning: "With tears in my eyes and pain in the knee I have to say goodbye to the Giro. I could not perform on my normal level the last 2 weeks and there was no improvement. The only right decision that could be made at this moment. I’m sorry to leave my 2 teammates behind."

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Lotto-Soudal had a successful start to the race with sprinter Caleb Ewan taking two stages and the lead in the points classification before abandoning the race, also with knee pain. The Australian was due to leave the race early anyway as he looks to win a stage in every Grand Tour in 2021.

Polish rider Tomasz Marczyński was the next to go as he was suffering from long-Covid. Soon after him, Jasper De Buyst abandoned.

Kobe Goossens put in several excellent breakaway efforts but eventually also abandoned the race due to pains after a crash.

>>> This is the new route for stage 16 of the Giro d'Italia 2021

After that, it was Roger Kluge, who was sitting in second-to-last place overall in the standings. He stepped off the bike with knee issues as well on the Monte Zoncolan stage.

This leaves Oldani and Vanhoucke, who were both in the breakaway on stage 15, yesterday.

Officially, the team can now downgrade to a camper van if they see the team bus as too big. This is allowed when a team has three or fewer riders left in the squad at a race. The two remaining riders will be hoping to hold on for the final week of the race.

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