Thomas De Gendt could also be racing the Tour of Oman proper now however the Belgian breakaway specialist is maintaining greater than half an eye fixed on the spectacular progress that his younger teammate Arnaud De Lie is making again dwelling in Europe.
The Lotto-Dstny dash phenomenon received 9 races final 12 months, his first as knowledgeable and this season he has already taken one other three. At solely 20 years of age, the Belgian has a protracted option to go earlier than hitting his higher restrict.
De Gendt likens his compatriot to no much less a star than Peter Sagan in his earliest days.
“He is playful on the bike, a bit like Sagan was in his younger days. So he nonetheless has some margin to enhance however for now, it is nonetheless all taking part in and having enjoyable attacking even when he would not must, and that is good to see,” De Gendt instructed Cyclingnews throughout the Tour of Oman.
“I keep in mind when Sagan was with Cannondale and Liquigas, he received a stage in Paris-Good by attacking with greater than three kilometres to go, as a result of even when he was the quickest, he attacked like that simply because he might.
“It is good that Arnaud nonetheless has that sense of enjoyable.”
De Lie can also be spectacular “due to the best way he can maintain his personal in powerful sprints in opposition to guys like Mads Pedersen”, who, like Sagan, is a former World Champion – “in race finishes as exhausting because the Etoile de Bessèges.”
After successful two levels in Besseges and the Clasica Comunitat Valenciana 1969 already this season, De Lie is the odds-on favorite for the Clasica de Almería on Sunday. Additional down the road, he’ll be heading into the unknown on the WorldTour Monuments, with debuts in Milan-San Remo and Paris-Roubaix.
“He’ll be doing the Classics this 12 months to study and enhance,” De Gendt mentioned. “If in San Remo he can recover from these climbs with the entrance group, and if he can, then he’ll have an opportunity to win. However he has to see what they’re like first.
“It is protected to say that he is nonetheless very younger and nonetheless has a couple of years to study, and in a couple of years’ time he’ll go there with the target to win.”
Other than his potential to have enjoyable and win races on the identical time, arguably what impresses De Gendt is that De Lie is making his mark in opposition to hardened Classics quick males like Pedersen in races the place the Dane was clearly in flying type.
“It is good he is successful within the smaller races, however that stage he took in opposition to Pederson and the best way he received afterwards was actually distinctive,” De Gendt mentioned. “A great sprinter can win 10 bunch sprints a 12 months if they’re regular ones, however to have the ability to do one thing like De Lie in these exhausting ones – that is very totally different.
“He is set himself as much as be a extremely good rider sooner or later, most likely one of many large stars.”
No Giro d’Italia
Whereas De Lie is making his Classics debut this 12 months, De Gendt himself can be pressured to modify season targets as his authentic goal of the Giro d’Italia is now not on the Lotto-Dstny program.
“I needed to do the Giro and Vuelta, however I perceive why they opted out of the Giro, and I am going to attempt to discover one other aim,” De Gendt mentioned.
Ideally, his various Grand Tour can be the Tour de France, De Gendt says, earlier than warning that “it is exhausting to get into that choice as a result of everyone needs to go there. So I am going to simply have to point out myself someplace first and take it from there.” Perhaps not in Oman, however hopefully sooner quite than later.
De Gendt nonetheless needs so as to add to his tally of wins earlier than heading for a unique Grand Tour, both with a 3rd stage win in Paris-Good and/or a sixth stage within the Volta a Catalunya, the race the place he is taken most victories in his profession.
The Tour of Oman is De Gendt’s first stage race of 2023, however the low season has gone properly for the breakaway specialist. Together with his goals additional into the long run, he’s working for his teammates in Oman.
“I had a seven-week coaching camp in Calpe, Spain, good climate and a superb ambiance within the group. I didn’t have one coaching journey that I needed to shorten or cancel,” De Gendt mentioned relating to his winter.
“The coaching was a bit totally different, it was all a bit extra again to fundamentals. I did extra endurance coaching for the primary three or 4 weeks, and afterwards, I began to do extra intervals.
“For the final three years, I’ve switched it incorrect, achieved extra intervals and skilled for much less and now I went again to a 25 hours per week schedule. Simply to attempt to get the great emotions again once more.”
If his coaching schedule was partly new, De Gendt is driving Oman for the primary time in his 15-year profession. In comparison with the UAE Tour “the place it is simply largely flat, this has acquired a bit extra color and ambiance” he says, however the tempo has been extra intense than he anticipated. “They instructed me it is totally different to UAE, the place it is so flat you are at all times going at 170-180 Watts the entire time,” he noticed.
“Right here we acquired so far as the primary climb, and it was truly fairly exhausting, and we by no means slowed down after that.
“After this, I am going to go to the UAE, most likely to race for Caleb [Ewan] and ensure it is a dash day by day. It isn’t my alternative however there should not that many choices at this a part of the season.”