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Thomas De Gendt fought valiantly in the finale, but the Belgian had to settle for second behind breakaway companion Dario Cataldo.
Relentless attacker hopes for a fourth time lucky
Giro d'Italia podium finisher Thomas De Gendt may have been beaten by Dario Cataldo (Omega Pharma) on top of the Cuitu Nigru climb in yesterday's stage 16 of the Vuelta a España, but the Vacansoleil-DCM rider has already stated that this wasn't his last bid for a victory at the race. Despite having been part of three decisive breakaways so far in the race, De Gendt announced that his Vuelta wasn't over yet.
"I think that my Vuelta is already a reasonable success," he told Sporza. "But there are still five stages to go, and two mountain stages. I want to show myself at least one more time."
Last Friday, De Gendt had already made the break of the day on stage 13, finishing sixth behind stage winner Steve Cummings (BMC). And on stage six earlier in the race, taken by Joaquim Rodriguez (Katusha), the Belgian was part of an escape group that was passed by the GC riders on the way to the mountaintop finish.
Yesterday's second place was therefore a solid improvement, and even though the 25-year-old was disappointed not to have scored the victory, he handled his defeat well. "I felt really good and would have liked to win, but Cataldo was just a little bit better than me," he admitted. "When someone is stronger than yourself, you have to come to peace with it at one point.
"We agreed not to attack each other to death so that we'd certainly get first and second respectively. The last kilometres were particularly steep. I looked at my computer the whole time, and it never showed more than 10 km/h."
The ascent of the Cuitu Negru triggered many reactions amongst the riders. "Look, 24 per cent is of course terribly steep but in the end it's the same for everybody. The climb as such is okay, but not the fact that there are so many support vehicles that also have to get up there. It was already very narrow, and the cars made it even more difficult," he added to Het Nieuwsblad.
During his ride with Cataldo, De Gendt added more points for the mountains classification to his tally, now up to 33 points and only five away from the leader, Simon Clarke (Orica-GreenEdge). This may be an additional incentive for the Belgian to go on another breakaway before the race reaches its final destination in Madrid.
"Maybe on Saturday on the Bola del Mundo, I can try again to win my stage," he hoped.