Thomas de Gendt rebounds from 2021 disappointment to ink two year extension with Lotto-Soudal

Breakaway specialist to keep shaking things up after recovery from burnout.

Photo: Michael Steele/Getty Images

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Breakaway master Thomas de Gendt has inked a new deal to remain with Lotto-Soudal for two more years.

The 35-year-old raced to a superb stage victory in the Giro d’Italia in May, doing the lion’s share of work in a day-long breakaway, fending off a furious chase by Mathieu van der Poel and others and then outsprinting three others to take the win.

“I am very curious for the evolution of the team in the coming years and very happy to be a part of that,” De Gendt said in a team announcement on Monday that confirmed the contract extension.

De Gendt has been an integral part of the team since 2015, taking stages in all three grand tours in that time, including in the 2019 and 2016 Tours de France.

He is not in the French event this year, with his Giro d’Italia showing likely to be followed by participation in the Tour de Pologne at the end of the month and then the Vuelta a España.

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Lotto-Soudal CEO John Lelangue said that after eight years with the squad, De Gendt is synonymous with the team.

“Thomas De Gendt in the breakaway in a Lotto-Soudal jersey: that is a familiar sight for every cycling fan,” Lelangue said.

“Although we all know him as someone who jokes around and never gives up, last season has not been easy for him. Therefore, I am very happy to see his strong comeback this year. First of all, he has worked very hard for the team every time we needed him. But with his stage win in the Giro has proven once again what everybody already knew: with Thomas De Gendt you are never done.”

De Gendt said during last year’s Tour that he was struggling with the pace despite putting out what he said were record power numbers. He also suggested that his participation in the race could be his last.

Speaking to Het Nieuwsblad last September, he said that he was very ambivalent about returning to the event, but could consider doing so if it was as a domestique with no pressure.

He also told the Belgian publication that 2022 could mark the end to his career. However he said that if things “suddenly improve next year or in another role – a road captain or domestique instead of attacker or protected rider” he could potentially continue another one or two years with “a different attitude, like guiding young riders and calming them down when needed.”

That has indeed come to pass, with the physical and mental fatigue of last year now gone and a new enthusiasm there.

It’s likely his Giro d’Italia stage win played a big part in that.

After that success he reflected on how things had been difficult for him.

“It’s getting harder and harder to bet into a good break,” he said. “Today I had one of those really good days. I put all of my emotion in my final sprint. I could not fail, it was not an option.

“The last victory was last year, since then I didn’t have a good feeling, almost never feeling good. Also this year I was also sick and just not well prepared before a race. I was not in good shape two weeks ago.”

His enthusiasm has clearly returned and he said this week that he is committed to a pair of additional seasons with the Belgian squad.

“In this team I have been able to become the rider that I always wanted to be: an attacker,” he said. “The past eight years have been a success for the most part of it, with beautiful victories and great memories. I am looking forward to adding another two years.

“I am very curious for the evolution of the team in the following years, with young talents as Maxim Van Gils or Arnaud De Lie and also the new cosponsor coming on board. Although it will become harder and harder for me, my goal still remains to win races. Next to that, I hope to help the team whenever I can.”

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