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“I had a little problem with the stomach, so I didn’t think I was going to survive the steep climb," De Gendt says

Photo: OPQS / Tim De Waele

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28.05.2014 @ 19:16 Posted by Andy Pedersen

Thomas De Gendt is known as the king of breakaways and today he again got close to an escape win when he launched a brave solo attack in the finale of stage 17 of the Giro d'Italia. In fact, his tactics had been decided by stomach problems that made him uncertain about his ability to climb with the best.

 

Omega Pharma - Quick-Step Cycling Team were once again protagonists at the Giro d'Italia. This time, it was Thomas De Gendt and Serge Pauwels in a big escape group at the 208km 17th Stage. De Gendt went on to finish 4th, and Pauwels 10th.

 

The stage left the possibility for a bunch sprint, but the breakaway maintained a gap of more than 10 minutes, and even let the gap rise to more than 14 minutes in the final kilometers. The Maglia Rosa group controlled the pace on the front, especially with some technical sections and some conditions that could potentially lead to crashes.

 

The action was all up the road, and De Gendt took the opportunity for a possible stage with with about 30 kilometers to go in the stage. He attacked solo, but Stefano Pirazzi (Bardiani-CSF) bridged to him once the two riders passed the top of the final climb. They were joined by Tim Wellens (Lotto-Belisol), Jay McCarthy (Tinkoff-Saxo), and Matteo Montaguti (AG2R - La Mondiale) with 12km to go, and those riders collaborated well enough to keep away any chasers.

 

Pirazzi attacked with 1.3km to go, and held enough of a gap to win the stage. Wellens was 2nd, McCarthy 3rd.

 

OPQS looks next to 171km, high mountain Stage 18 on Thursday. There is a GPM 1 summit finish. Rigoberto Uran of OPQS, who wore the pink jersey until a chaotic Stage 16, is currently 2nd in the GC behind Nairo Quintana (Movistar) by a minute and 41 seconds.

“I had a little problem with the stomach, so I didn’t think I was going to survive the steep climb," De Gendt said. "I wanted to go before it, maybe with a little group. But when I went, no one came with me. So I just did tempo, like a time trial until the climb.

 

"At the top Pirazzi was there. It was OK with five riders, but in the end it’s a game. I tried once at 3 kilometers to go, but they were directly on the wheel. But because I was 10, 15 kilometers alone earlier in the stage, I already used some important energy.

 

"It’s a game and Pirazzi won it today.  It’s too bad I couldn’t win, but OK, 4th is a nice place after 200 kilometers. It wasn’t 1st, but I did my best today. We knew, after a stage like yesterday, today would have been perfect to attack and maybe win out of a breakaway. I definitely tried.”


“Today was a stage which was on paper maybe not so important for us,” Pauwels said. “But if a big group went, we wanted to be in it. Then at one point Thomas was in the breakaway, and after 75 kilometers there was already a lot of attacks. I just covered the attacks behind him. In this way I became part of the breakaway myself. We had 25 guys and two from OPQS.

 

"Thomas opened the final with a really strong attack. I tried to block everything, especially on the descent before the last climb. Then I struggled on the last climb to follow, but OK. It was a big gamble anyway. With 25 riders we knew for sure it would be hard. For Thomas to get 4th and me 10th, I’d say we can be happy with this effort today.”

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