Thomas De Gendt (Vacansoleil-DCM) entered the Critérium du Dauphiné aiming to get his Tour de France preparation on track with a high overall finish but the Belgian suffered a worrying setback when he lost 14 minutes on stage one to Champéry.
De Gendt struggled as soon as the road went uphill on Sunday’s stage and he was distanced by the main peloton on the climb of Morgin. The Belgian, who finished third overall at last year’s Giro d’Italia, came home in 138th place, almost a quarter of an hour down on stage winner David Veilleux (Europcar).
“There’s something not right, my heart rate was too high,” De Gendt told Sporza. “I was trying to ride in the peloton when I got dropped by 160 or 170 riders and I realised that I couldn’t do any more.
“My heart rate was way too high and I don’t know where that comes from,” De Gendt said. “I was at 170 beats per minute very quickly and on that long climb I peaked at 180 beats per minute even though I didn’t go very deep.”
Before the Dauphiné, De Gendt had spoken optimistically of aiming for a top five finish overall and declared himself pleased with the form he had shown at a recent Vacansoleil team time trial training camp. He believes his travails in the Dauphiné opener might be explicable by illness.
“On Monday I’ll know immediately if it’s because of illness or not,” De Gendt said. “It’s not to do with my condition, because I had good sensations in the team time trial training, with a normal heart rate.”