Thomas De Gendt says he will try and placate fans by winning another Tour de France stage at the 2020 edition, following on from his sensational solo victory at last year’s race.
“I will try to win a stage this Tour, but it’s not easy to just win a stage, but I will try my best,” the Belgian said after stage three.
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The plan before the Grand Départ in Nice was to not pile all the pressure for escapee success on De Gendt, but having lost Tim Wellens before the race started as well as Philippe Gilbert and John Degenkolb after the first day, responsibility on De Gendt’s shoulders.
“Those were three guys who were going to go in the breakaway as well, Tim and Phil especially. Those were two guys who were going to go in the breakaway so it wasn’t just on me to go in the breakaway.
“But now the pressure is all on me again, so that’s unfortunate. I hope all three heal well and they can start their season again soon.”
Before stage one, many had expected every kilometre to be raced hard, as riders make their case for contract renewals and teams seek to give their sponsors maximum return for their investment in this unexpected season. However, after a hectic opening day, the race has settled down, with the big teams marshalling the bunch as normal.
De Gendt says it was almost impossible for the break to stay away on stage three as Deceuninck – Quick-Step kept the escapees on a tight leash, looking to set things up for Sam Bennett, but maintained a pace that was slow enough to give the sprinters a comfortable ride to the final kilometre.
As for when he will try to run the gauntlet in search of victory, the 33-year-old says he will continue to recover from a back injury during the opening week, but has put the peloton and other breakaway aspirants on notice for week two.
“I still have a bit of a back problem, I hope it will be better tomorrow. If I feel okay I will try to be in the break,” De Gendt explained. “But I think it’s better to aim for the second week and take it easy in the first week to make sure it heals.”