By Gregor Brown
Belgian Thomas De Gendt (Lotto-Soudal) ranks today's Tour de France stage win in Saint-Étienne above those at the Stelvio Pass in the Giro d'Italia and the 2016 Tour's win on Mont Ventoux.
De Gendt rode clear at kilometre zero in the 200km stage with several categorised and uncategorised climbs ahead of him. Though the roads are not as famous as the Stelvio and Ventoux, the ride means more to him.
"I would put this above Ventoux just because it's 200km and it was fighting against bunch and winning with only five to six seconds," De Gendt explained.
"The Stelvio is something else – almost 220km long and with mountains, but I would dare to put this at number one."
It was not easy for De Gendt or anyone in the Tour de France. He rode clear with Ben King (Dimension Data), Niki Terpstra (Direct Energie) and Alessandro De Marchi (CCC Team).
De Marchi held on the longest, but even he faded and left only De Gendt to push alone. That advantage fell sharply when at 11km, Julian Alaphilippe (Deceuninck-Quick Step) attacked behind to gain the yellow jersey. It put in doubt De Gendt's quest of for Tour stage win number two.
"I really like De Marchi, he's a really good rider. He doesn't think, doesn't calculate, just goes like me. That's the best you can have," he continued.
"Most guys start to calculate and think about the victory even before they ride for the victory. De Marchi is the opposite – he rides for the victory and then he starts to think about the victory. That's the way you have to do it.
"We started to go full gas with 70km to go. We never talked about the gap or how to pull, we just said, 'let's keep this tempo,' at that moment it was like 420 watts on the climb, we said, 'we'll keep this tempo on the climb.' He said 'OK,' that's it and we just kept going like this for 70km.
"That's how you have to try and win. It's a pity that he didn't have the legs in the end because it would be nice to sprint for victory against him but I think his moment will come. If I had more guys like De Marchi, I would stay away more times also."
With the win, 32-year-old De Gendt now counts two stage victories in the Tour, one in the 2012 Giro and the Gijon stage in the 2017 Vuelta a España.
Transcontinental Race champion Fiona Kolbinger posts exhausting 430km ride across three countries in 14 hours to Strava
The German rode at an impressive pace of 30.5km/h
By Tim Bonville-Ginn •
Join us for E-Bike Live: a week dedicated to electric bikes
Five days of exciting electric bike tips, advice and know-how
By CyclingWeekly Staff •
Thomas De Gendt reveals plans for breakaway win at Tour de France 2020
'Mr Breakaway' says after losing team-mates early in the race the pressure is back on him to deliver a victory from an escape
By Jonny Long •
Caleb Ewan fires from behind to take headwind sprint on stage three of Tour de France 2020
Caleb Ewan fired from a long way back and weaved his way to a headwind sprint victory on stage three of the Tour de France 2020.
By Alex Ballinger •
‘Eight years ago I said I’d win here’: Caleb Ewan claims dream victory on Champ-Élyées at Tour de France 2019
Caleb Ewan fulfilled his dream of taking the prestigious Tour de France sprint on the Champs-Élyées, eight years after making a vow to win there.
By Alex Ballinger •
Caleb Ewan sprints to second Tour de France victory on stage 16
The Australian beat Elia Viviani and Dylan Groenewegen to the line in Nîmes
By Richard Windsor •
Lotto-Soudal team suffer major theft from team hotel after Tour de France stage 11
Reports suggest team lost around €50,000 worth of equipment
By Alex Ballinger •
Long-awaited Tour de France victory lifts pressure off Caleb Ewan
Caleb Ewan won his long-awaited stage to take the pressure off his shoulders in his first Tour de France.
By Gregor Brown •
Caleb Ewan will get his Tour de France stage win, insists Lotto boss
Ewan has taken two podium places at the Tour so far, with his team confident he'll take a win before the end of the race
By James Shrubsall •
Tiesj Benoot abandons Tour de France after dislocating shoulder in stage four pile-up
Tiesj Benoot became the fourth rider to abandon the 2018 Tour de France, deciding against starting stage five following a crash on Tuesday's stage to Sarzeau.
By Henry Robertshaw •