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Thomas De Gendt: “A new UCI Calendar is important, it keeps many riders motivated”

The 33-year-old Thomas De Gendt (Lotto-Soudal) is a great idol for many of us. He is famous for his attractive racing style – always in the breakaway – and for his grandious solo victories on hard races. De Gendt won stages at every Grand Tour and he is one of the few professional cyclists who raced in one season the Giro d’Italia, Tour de France and the Vuelta. His specialty is to attack early on a stage, to spend the most of the race in the breakaway, then to attack again at the perfect moment in the breakaway and to finish it off with an unbelievable solo effort for the victory.

He has been a professional cyclist for more than 11 years. He rides more than 32.000 km-s a year.
Each year 2.500 to 3.000 kilometers in breakaway! It is worth to follow Thomas De Gendt on Strava.

Exlusive interview with the Belgian top rider, who has more connections with Hungary than you thought! 😉

Foto: Pascal Vande Putte, Lotto Soudal

Bikemag:
Thomas De Gendt, thank you for accepting our request for an interview. How are you, how is your family?

Thomas De Gendt:
We are absolutely fine, thank you. Everyone is healthy.

Bikemag:
Are you happy to be a professional cyclist at this moment?

Thomas De Gendt:
Yes, I’m always happy to be a procyclist. At this moment our job is a little different, next to keep on training we must find other ways to make publicity for our sponsors.

Bikemag:
What’s your daily routine now? How many hours do you train per week?

Thomas De Gendt:
15-20 hours. My routine didn’t change. It is the same like in other training periods to prepare for racing. The only difference is now I can’t do any coffee-stops on my ride.

Bikemag:
Many cyclists use this period to work on their weak points. Do you have any?

Thomas De Gendt:
I focus on time trial trainings. I would like to find the perfect position on this bike. Also, I would like to work on climbing skills, but therefore we do not have enough high mountains in Belgium.

Bikemag:
How do you see the coronavirus situation right now? Where can we see you racing next?

Thomas De Gendt:
I don’t know my race programme at this moment unfortunately. Tour de France 2020 may be the first but doubt it can happen. I think I won’t have any chance to ride into a breakaway this season anymore. But it is important the UCI prepares a new race calendar again and again. It keeps the hope in many riders, teams.

Bikemag:
What does Lotto-Soudal expect from you during these times?

Thomas De Gendt:
We discuss the news weekly with the team management. The main subject is to how keep our sponsors. At this moment we are trying to make them a lot of publicity on social media and to keep them in the spotlight.

Bikemag:
We received the information, that Lotto-Soudal World Tour riders gave up a part of their monthly salary as well. Would you tell us how much percentage was this in your case?

Thomas De Gendt:
I gave up 30% of my salary since we can’t start any race.

Bikemag:
Grand Tours in 2020. Is there a chance?

Thomas De Gendt:
I hope, but let’s be realistic. Grand Tours are very important for these countries but they attract an international crowd. Teams, riders from every part of the world fly there. Cycing is one of the most international sports. So many nationalities. During the global outbreak of coronavirus, I can’t see any chance to organize a Tour de France.

Bikemag:
2020 is your sixth race season with Lotto-Soudal. Why do you stay all this time with the team?

Thomas De Gendt:
I love to race in the colours of Lotto-Soudal. I like my roll in every race. It is always the best for me. However, I don’t have any contract yet for 2021.

Foto: Pascal Vande Putte, Lotto Soudal

Bikemag:
In 2016 one of your teammates suffered a very bad crash during the Baloise Belgium Tour. He was 6-months-long in a coma. His doctors said there is nearly no chance he can wake up ever again. How do you see the miracle of Stig Broeckx?

Thomas De Gendt:
We were up real close to all what happened. His critical state, the terrible news… He was already in a coma for one month when the doctors told us, riders, his friends, the evening before the Belgian Championships: Stig Broeckx has a very little chance to wake up ever again. They told us actually his condition won’t get any better. It is a miracle that he woke up after 6 months. He is a real idol for all of us. His fight is 1000 times harder than for any of us in this life. But he fights always with a smile.

Bikemag:
What is your most beautiful memory from your cyclist career so far?

Thomas De Gendt:
Wauw, I have a lot. The victories. The Vuelta in 2017, when we won 4 stages with 3 riders. And to win the Mountain Classement in 2018. It was a dream come true for me.

Bikemag:
Do you have any plans for retirement?

Thomas De Gendt:
I didn’t plan anything yet. I don’t know when would I stop my career in topsport. Perhaps it will be next year, perhaps only 6 years later. No idea.

Bikemag:
What do you think about virtual cycling races?

Thomas De Gendt:
I love to use Zwift. It is nice for racing but some cyclists are cheating online and this is sad for the others who take it seriously.
For me, virtual racing is a game. I don’t care if I am 7. or if I take the win.

Bikemag:
You are an idol for many young talents. What is your message to them?

Thomas De Gendt:
Keep your passion for cycling. Until you don’t have any professional contract, go ride your bike because you enjoy it. Not because a third person expects you to do that. When you become a procyclist, maybe you will need to do it for 15-years long even when you don’t have any pleasure with it.
Dare to invest in a training camp, accept every opportunity for a stagaire position. When you invest in a high altitude camp for example, every euro will return to you in dubble within a professional contract. But only when your attitude is really serious to do the trainings 100% and you live like a professional athlete.

Bikemag:
You are a Father, yourself. What is your advice to parents who have children with procycling ambitions?

Thomas De Gendt:
Cycling should be a game, don’t be a fanatic. As parents, don’t be upset if the child makes a mistake or loses a race. Don’t give to youth riders the best possible material on the market.
Support their dreams but let them form their topsport carreer alone.

Bikemag:
Have you ever been to Hungary? What do you think of the Giro d’Italia Grande Partenza in Budapest?

Thomas De Gendt:
I have never been to Hungary but it is definitely on the top of my list. I look really forward to a Giro start in Budapest but this will only happen in 2021.

Tim Wellens, Thomas De Gendt The final Breakaway

Bikemag:
We heard the next “Final Breakaway” will be through Mid-Europe. Can your fans from Hungary see you riding through the country?

Thomas De Gendt:
Yes, with Tim Wellens we planned to start from Monaco and ride all the way to the Czech Repulic. Through Italy, Slovenia, Austria and naturally crossing Hungary would be nice. But this plan is postponed now to 2021.

Thomas De Gendt favourites 🙂

Race: Paris-Nice és Volta Catalunya

Cycling destination: Calpe

Mountain: Stelvio

Meal before a race: Fried egg with ham and cheese; cereals; oatmeal with fruits and joghurt

Meal after a race: Anything our team cook prepares for us

Drink after a victory: Chocolate milk

Recovery: To lie in the bed and to do nothing

Idol: Jens Voigt

Favourite women cyclist: The Hungarian Veronika Kormos (Ventus Cycles) 🙂

Best friend in the peloton: Tim Wellens, Tosch Van der Sande (Lotto-Soudal) and Louis Vervaeke (Alpecin-Fenix)

Hobby: Gaming, Rubik’s Cube

Music: Rock music

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