Thomas De Gendt could also be racing the Tour of Oman proper now however the Belgian breakaway specialist is holding greater than half an eye fixed on the spectacular progress that his younger teammate Arnaud De Lie is making again residence in Europe.
The Lotto-Dstny dash phenomenon received 9 races final 12 months, his first as an expert and this season he has already taken one other three. At solely 20 years of age, the Belgian has a protracted strategy 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 enjoying and having enjoyable attacking even when he does not should, and that is good to see,” De Gendt advised Cyclingnews through 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 may.
“It is good that Arnaud nonetheless has that sense of enjoyable.”
De Lie can also be spectacular “due to the way in which he can maintain his personal in robust sprints in opposition to guys like Mads Pedersen”, who, like Sagan, is a former World Champion – “in race finishes as onerous 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 be taught 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 be taught, and in a couple of years’ time he’ll go there with the target to win.”
Other than his capacity 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 kind.
“It is good he is successful within the smaller races, however that stage he took in opposition to Pederson and the way in which he received afterwards was actually distinctive,” De Gendt mentioned. “An excellent 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 onerous ones – that is very completely different.
“He is set himself as much as be a very good rider sooner or later, in all probability one of many huge stars.”
No Giro d’Italia
Whereas De Lie is making his Classics debut this 12 months, De Gendt himself can be compelled to modify season objectives as his unique intention 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 objective,” De Gendt mentioned.
Ideally, his various Grand Tour could be the Tour de France, De Gendt says, earlier than warning that “it is onerous to get into that choice as a result of all people desires 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 relatively than later.
De Gendt nonetheless desires 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. Along with his goals additional into the longer term, he’s working for his teammates in Oman.
“I had a seven-week coaching camp in Calpe, Spain, good climate and a great environment within the workforce. I didn’t have one coaching trip that I needed to shorten or cancel,” De Gendt mentioned relating to his winter.
“The coaching was a bit completely 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 flawed, carried out extra intervals and educated 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 using Oman for the primary time in his 15-year profession. In comparison with the UAE Tour “the place it is simply principally flat, this has received a bit extra color and environment” he says, however the tempo has been extra intense than he anticipated. “They advised me it is completely 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 received so far as the primary climb, and it was really fairly onerous, and we by no means slowed down after that.
“After this, I am going to go to the UAE, in all probability to race for Caleb [Ewan] and ensure it is a dash every single day. It isn’t my selection however there are usually not that many choices at this a part of the season.”