While many riders begin making tentative plans for when racing hopefully resumes in August, Thomas De Gendt is already targeting one of the biggest prizes of all, the yellow jersey at the Tour de France.
The breakaway specialist believes the undulating 170km opening route starting and finishing in Nice suits his skills and gives him the perfect opportunity to potentially win his third Tour stage and take the yellow jersey for the first time in his career.
“You will not yet find all complete stage profiles online but the first races are the most important to me,” De Gendt told Het Nieuwsblad. “The first stage is a big goal right away. A typical Paris-Nice ride in which you can stay ahead of the pack.”
In 2019, the 33-year-old rode all three Grand Tours or the first time in his career and says although he reckons he could physically still ride all three despite them being within 10 weeks of each other and the fact the Giro d’Italia and Vuelta a España overlap.
“Physically I could have done that, but the team wouldn’t have allowed that. Rightly so too. Because if I had claimed a place in every Grand Tour it would have been really selfish,” De Gendt said.
“Everyone on the team would like to do a Grand Tour. I like the combination of the Tour and the Vuelta.”
De Gendt has ridden both the Tour and Vuelta six times in his career, only failing to finish the Vuelta twice in 2013 and 2015. However, he worries the northern route of the 2020 Vuelta could provide some problems with the race being held in October and November, and the Belgian hopes race organisers will make alterations.
“Even in September the weather can be changeable. It will be cold there in November. Maybe they just have to revise the entire Vuelta course and rather head towards the warmer Calpe, Valencia and Andalusia.”
The Vuelta has already been forced to cancel the opening three stages in Utrecht, the Netherlands, reducing the number of stages in the race to 18, as well as removing the Portuguese stages, due to potential complications related to the coronavirus pandemic. In a blow to De Gendt’s wishes, race organisers have said they don’t intend to make any further alterations to the route.