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.
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“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.