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"I am pleased that the Giro will again by the main goal of my season. Coincidentally, I already rode the stage over the Gavia and Stelvio with my friend Willem Wauters last year," De Gendt tells Het Nieuwsblad

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09.11.2013 @ 12:01 Posted by Emil Axelgaard

After  a terrible 2013 season, Thomas De Gendt will be joining Omega Pharma-Quick Step team in 2014 and the Belgian has already drawn up the main part of his race schedule. With the Tour de France team likely to be dedicated to Mark Cavendish, the Belgian will skip the French grand tour to focus on the Giro d'Italia where he is likely to ride in support of Rigoberto Uran.

 

Having mostly been known as one of the greatest breakaway specialists in the professional peloton, Thomas De Gendt suddenly showed a much more versatile talent when he won the queen stage to the top of the Stelvio climb and finished 3rd overall in the 2012 Giro d'Italia. Having emerged as the next big Belgian grand tour rider, expectations for De Gendt were high in 2013.

 

However, the Belgian had a terrible season and only won a single race, the final stage of the Volta a Catalunya. In most races, he was seen more at the back of the peloton than in his trademark attacks.

 

With the demise of Vacansoleil, he found himself in an uncertain position and for a long time, he was unable to find a new team for 2014. He lost out against Jan Bakelants in the battle for the final spot on the Omega Pharma-Quick Step roster and he was also in contact with the Fernando Alonso team that had to postpone its debut to 2015.

 

Luckily, Janier Acevedo broke an agreement with Omega Pharma-Quick Step to sign with Garmin-Sharp which opened an extra spot on the Belgian team. Manager Patrick Lefevre decided to give De Gendt another chance to show his worth and signed him for the coming season.

 

De Gendt has now started to prepare his 2014 season but has already been told that he won't be riding the Tour de France next year. He skipped the event in 2012 as it coincided with his wedding and had an unsuccessful comeback in 2013.

 

As expected, Omega Pharma-Quick Step will fully dedicate themselves to Mark Cavendish in the French grand tour.

 

"In principle, you won't see me in the Tour de France," he told Het Nieuwsblad. "There is no place for me on the Tour roster. As the Tour starts in England, it is logical that the focus will next year be on Mark Cavendish. He will have his train at the race. Then you have select riders like Tony Martin who do their own thing. At the moment, the Tour is not really for me."

 

Instead, De Gendt will be returning to the Giro where he celebrated this greatest triumphs. Actually, he has already done his first reconnaissance ride as he checked out the big mountain stage over Gavia and Stelvio with a finish on Val Martello prior to last year's edition of the race. The stage was cancelled due to bad weather but has been included in this year's race as well.

 

"I am pleased that the Giro will again by the main goal of my season," he said. "Coincidentally, I already rode the stage over the Gavia and Stelvio with my friend Willem Wauters last year but that stage was cancelled due to bad weather. That will now come in handy for me on the stage to Val Martello. At the presentation of the Giro, I took a quick look at the course."

 

In 2012, De Gendt was the team leader in the Giro but that won't be the case next year. Omega Pharma-Quick Step has signed Rigoberto Uran as their grand tour captain and while he originally intended to ride the Tour, De Gendt explains that the Colombian may return to the Giro where he finished 2nd last year.

 

"I don't go there as there as the leader of Omega Pharma-Quick Step," he said. "I will play a support role. I will be the right-hand man for the leader. After last season, I cannot demand anything. Not at all. I haven't said: I will do the Paris-Nice. As it stands not, I will prepare myself for the Italian race by riding stage races. We will discuss that on the first training camp in December (in Calpe, ed.) where we have more time to discuss those things."

 

In addition to his Catalunya stage win, De Gendt only had one top 10 finish in 2013 when he finished 3rd in the first time trial of the Tour de France.

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