Copyright Lotto Soudal

Third in the mountains classification, third in the points classification, fiftieth in the general classification and – according to the jury – second most combative: Thomas De Gendt did leave his mark on this Tour. “I came to the Tour after a period where I couldn’t follow the training programme I had, due to my wrist injury. Because of this, I wasn’t in the best shape during the first part of the Tour, but I improved in the course of the three weeks. In the flat stages, I have tried to do my job for the team and for André as good as possible, as I knew that there would be chances later on.”

Overviewing his Tour, De Gendt indicates that he tried to grasp every chance, even the smallest. “Maybe it would have been better that I didn’t go into the breakaway on three or four occasions, but sometimes I ended up in the front effortlessly. If there is a breakaway of ten or more riders, than I’m convinced that I should be one of them. Contrary to last year, Team Sky did take control rigorously. This made that a few chances that I hoped to get were thwarted. In my opinion, they put unnecessary efforts in controlling the peloton, but they have every right to do so.”

De Gendt was twice really present in the finale; in the stage to Rodez and last Friday to Salon-de-Provence. “I knew my chances were small in the stage to Rodez, because Sunweb and BMC would be setting the pace in the peloton, and that it would be almost impossible for anyone of our team to win that day. That’s why we decided to go in the attack that stage. I had hoped to stay ahead longer, but I was caught with twelve kilometres remaining. Last Friday, I was part of a group of twenty strong riders, including a few fast ones. After winning on Mont Ventoux last year, it seems for the outside as if I can repeat such feat each year, but it is not that simple. I cannot really call out a highlight, but if I have to choose, it would be my prize for the most combative rider in stage fourteen to Rodez.”

During the Tour, his drive to go for the Super-combativity award only grew. “Let me be clear: Warren Barguil has ridden a fantastic Tour and I don’t feel any grudge towards him. But the mountains jersey is for the best climber, a stage win is for the rider who was the strongest that day and the green jersey is for the rider who was regularly the fastest. I my opinion, the prize for the super-combativity should go to someone who showed throughout the Tour that he was there to animate the race and to go in the attack. That did not result in the desired result – a stage victory – but that should not be necessary to win the Super-combativity award.”

“The fact that there are five Frenchmen in the jury did play its part. If there were five Belgians in the jury, the outcome would have been different; which is evidence that the composition is not right. It should at least be an international jury that decides on this. I am very disappointed. I am too disappointed to go any deeper into this. I would rather go straight home, but I will do my utmost today to let the stage end in a sprint finish on the Champs Elysées.”