De Gendt already training for Grand Tour triple in 2019

Belgian previews new cobbled climb near Oudenaarde

Thomas De Gendt (Lotto Soudal) wrapped up the 2018 season with a bike-packing trip home from Il Lombardia just one month ago, but is already back to training and preparing for a triple Grand Tour assault during 2019, Het Nieuwsblad reported on Wednesday.

De Gendt was exploring the cobbled climbs in Flanders and previewed the newly cobbled Berg ten Houte near Maarkedal. The one-kilometre climb was converted by the municipality to control erosion on the steep Tenhoutestraat, a €350,000 project, but could be included in the Tour of Flanders or perhaps even in the opening stage of the Tour de France.

The route for the Tour de France was announced last month, but the details of the exact route for the 192km Brussels stage have not yet been revealed other than the inclusion of the Kapelmuur in Geraardsbergen, but the Berg ten Houte is in the right region to be used on the stage.

"It is more difficult than it looks," De Gendt said. "A perfect opener for the finale of a big race. After this it is always narrow roads so you have to be in position."

After winning the overall mountains classification in the Vuelta a España, De Gendt was given the honorary title of 'kilometrevreter' (kilometer eater) for the hardest worker in the peloton at Het Nieuwsblad's Flandrien awards. Having raced the Tour de France and the Vuelta for the past four seasons, De Gendt is preparing to have his first crack at all three Grand Tours in 2019.

"I start at the Tour Down Under, then Paris-Nice, Catalunya, the Tour de Romandie, the Giro, the Tour and the Vuelta. I will recover between them. I still have to discuss it with the team, but I can more or less choose my own program."

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