The Lotto-Soudal duo prove they are all-round hard men
The adventurous Belgian pairing Thomas De Gendt and Tim Wellens have completed their epic 1000km ride home from Il Lombardia to Flanders.
De Gendt and Wellens set off from northern Italy on Sunday and spent six days trekking across Europe.
The Lotto-Soudal hard men were set back by just two punctures during the week, the final one striking five kilometres from home.
After finishing what they dubbed ‘The Final Breakaway’, De Gendt said: “I’m happy to be home, but it has been a great adventure and a wonderful experience.
“Despite the luggage we carried on our bike, we still had an average speed of more than 30 kilometres per hour this week.
“We were lucky with the weather, only yesterday we didn’t see the sun, and we mainly had a tailwind during the stages.
“We had only two punctures this week – on top of the Grand Ballon and today at five kilometres from the finish.”
The pair tested their bikes loaded up with kit two months ago and rode with saddle bags as well as luggage on the handlebars and the top tube.
They then passed the Vosges in France, cut through Metz and Luxembourg, the Ardenne and then home to Flanders.
De Gendt added: “We don’t regret this adventure, but won’t make any promises to repeat the effort.
“Tim and I really enjoyed ourselves.
“We could enjoy nature along our route, something that’s not possible in a race.
“Physically we still feel fine, but we are happy to have a holiday now.
“We were surprised by the support we got and the number of people that followed our adventure.
“Thank you to everybody.”
Wellens actually lives in Monaco, but the pair decided the 400km from Como would not be enough of a challenge.
And while the ride was a challenge and not a race, Cycling Weekly can’t help but wonder if De Gendt fell into old habits and tried to breakaway from peloton of one.
Last month, Aqua Blue Sport team-mates Conor Dunne and Larry Warbasse rode an eight-day tour in Italy and France, around 1100 kilometres.
De Gendt said they had not been inspired by Dunne and Warbasse’s adventure, as the Belgians had already been planning their challenge.
Adventure cycling appears to be growing in popularity within the professional peloton.
Earlier this month, EF Education-First Drapac announced that their riders would be taking part in ultra-endurance events as part of an “alternative calendar.”
The news came as part of a new sponsorship deal between the team and British clothing brand Rapha.
Pros could be taking part in events like the Three Peaks cyclocross race and the Transcontinental ultra-endurance race.