“I will try to win a stage of this Tour, but it is not easy to win a stage, but I will do my best,” said the Belgian after the third stage.The plan before the Grand Départ in Nice was not to put all the pressure of the escaped success on De Gendt, but to have lost Tim Wellens before the start of the race as well as Philippe Gilbert and John Degenkolb after the first day, responsibility on the shoulders of De Gendt.
“There were three guys who were going to participate in the breakaway as well, Tim and Phil in particular. It was two guys who were going to be in the breakaway, so it wasn’t just for me to take part in the breakaway.
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“But now the pressure is on me again, so it’s unfortunate. I hope the three recover well and that they can start their season again soon.
Ahead of the first leg, many expected every mile to be run hard as riders plead for contract renewals and teams look to give their sponsors maximum return on their investment in this unexpected season. However, after an eventful opening day, the race calmed down with the big teams bringing the peloton together as usual.
De Gendt says it was nearly impossible for the break to stay out of the third leg as Deceuninck – Quick-Step kept the escapees on a tight leash, seeking to get things right for Sam Bennett, but maintained a pace slow enough to give the sprinters a comfortable ride until the last mile.
As for when he will try to run the glove in search of victory, the 33-year-old says he will continue to recover from a back injury during the opening week, but warned the peloton and the other breakaway contenders for the second week. .
“I still have a little back problem, I hope it will be better tomorrow. If I feel good I will try to be in the break, ”said De Gendt. “But I think it’s better to aim for week two and take it slow the first week to make sure it heals.”