The first half of the 2012 season was one to remember for Belgium's Thomas De Gendt, and his presence on the start line this weekend when the 67th Vuelta a España gets underway in Pamplona will give him the opportunity for more glory as leader of his team.
The Vacansoleil-DCM rider finished third overall in the Giro d'Italia at the end of May in only his second grand tour, where his success included a runaway victory atop the Passo dello Stelvio in the race's penultimate stage that made the entire cycling world sit up and take notice. A few weeks earlier he won a stage at Paris-Nice for the second consecutive year.
Team manager Dan Luijkx revealed his nine-man squad for the three-week Vuelta and stated that Vacansoleil-DCM are entering the race full of confidence and are ready to give De Gendt their full support.
"I think we should get a top ten finish as a team and we have this rider [De Gendt], who can ride into the top 20," Luijkx said. "We will ride the Vuelta as we did the Giro, where we took the offensive," announced Luijkx. "Breakaway groups have a good chance to succeed, and we have put a team together that will suit that."
Vacansoleil-DCM squad for the 2012 Vuelta a Espana: Thomas De Gendt, Martijn Keizer, Sergey Lagutin, Pim Ligthart, Bert-Jan Lindeman, Tomasz Marczynski, Wouter Mol, Rob Ruijgh and Rafael Valls.