De Gendt wins on Mont Ventoux

Thomas De Gendt won the stage to the Mont Ventoux today, the first victory for Lotto Soudal at this year’s Tour de France!

Yesterday the Tour organisation decided to shorten the stage because of the strong wind at the top of the Mont Ventoux. The new finish line was drawn six kilometres before the top, at Chalet Reynard. The question was if the GC riders would battle for the stage win or if a breakaway rider would triumph. Pretty soon a front group of fourteen was created, including Lotto Soudal riders Thomas De Gendt and André Greipel. One of their companions got dropped because of a puncture and so thirteen riders remained in front. A group of five chasers never managed to join them. The time gap between the front group and the peloton rose up to 18’45”. With 85 kilometres to go it looked rather reassuring for the break, but then some teams decided they wanted some action and tried to create echelons. The first peloton kept coming closer to the leaders and with 33 kilometres to go the time gap was 7’48”. After a crash in the peloton the pace slowed down so the riders involved could come back, that way the gap got bigger again. The winner was one of the riders of the breakaway!

Just before the foot of the Mont Ventoux André Greipel accelerated. He stayed ahead of the others for a short while. The German champion had already done a lot of work during the day for his teammate Thomas De Gendt. Once the climb really started Thomas set the pace, one by one the others got dropped. De Gendt turned out to be one of the strongest riders, together with Dani Navarro and Serge Pauwels. They entered the final kilometre together. The two Belgians left Navarro behind with a few hundred metres to go, then De Gendt beat his fellow countryman at the finish. It is his second stage win in a Grand Tour. In 2012 he won the mountain stage to the Stelvio at the Giro d’Italia. Thomas was also awarded the combativity prize today and he has the polka dot jersey around his shoulders again. De Gendt, who conquered the maximum points at the finish and on two smaller climbs during the stage, now has nine points more than Thibaut Pinot.