Dauphine: De Gendt's slender grip on yellow may turn red and white

Belgian hoping for 'slow' ride up Mont du Chat

With just a 27 second buffer over Richie Porte and three difficult days in the mountains the expectancy is that Thomas de Gendt (Lotto Soudal) will yield his yellow jersey on stage 6 with the brutal ascent to Mont du Chat and the tricky descent to the finish likely to shake up the general classification.

And while the Belgian, who has worn yellow since his opening day stage win, is realistic about his chances he still has a slender hope of clinging onto the yellow jersey for perhaps one more day. The climb of Mont du Chat is relentless affair and although it goes on for less than 10 kilometres there is no let-up, with pitches over 15 per cent. Given that it's the first true mountain test of the race, and that plenty of climbers will be looking to haul themselves back in GC contention after the time trial, there should be no shortage of suitors when it comes to attacking.

"I think it's finished tomorrow but you never know," de Gendt told the press when asked if this was his final yellow jersey press conference at the race.

"If they go slow on the climb then maybe I can hang on. I think a lot of guys are a bit further down on GC and they came here for a result and they will try and attack earlier on the climb and then go full gas on the descent. I think I will lose it but I hope I can keep it after tomorrow."

While much depends on the tactics of others de Gendt's own form will also have a say in Friday's outcome. The Belgian has finished on a Grand Tour podium and although lightening hasn't struck twice in that regard he remains a highly talented athlete, who on his day, can pull a performance out of the bag. His strong time trial on stage 4 was an indication of his overall form and with only one major climb on stage 5, he is not totally out of the running.

"I don't know if I've done the climb. I don't know if it's been in the Tour. It sounds familiar so maybe I've done it," he added in in his typical laid back demeanour.

"It's one big climb tomorrow and one descent. Then after that it's two big mountain stages that are short but have a lot of climbs. It will be a big fight between the GC guys and there will be big time differences. Someone like Contador can attack earlier in the stages and go from climb to climb. You might see a real spectacle."

Mountain man

Perhaps a more realist long-term aim for the Belgian will be to target the KOM jersey. He currently sits second in the classification, five points off Koen Bouwman (Team LottoNL-Jumbo) and on stage 5 de Gendt snaffled up two points.

"I was in the front and there was only 500m until the sprint. It was better to take them in case I needed them. If I lose the yellow then I can still go for the mountains jersey. It's better to take the two extra points because it could come down to one point."

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