Thomas De Gendt maps out 2018 race schedule

Belgian opts for Tour Down Under start to new season

On his first day of his off-season, Thomas De Gendt sat down and planned out his 2018 racing programme. The Belgian raced from January through to October with Lotto Soudal, pinning on a race number for the first and last WorldTour races of the season, the Tour Down Under and the inaugural Tour of Guangxi respectively.

The 30-year-old completed his Grand Tour treble in 2017 as he won a stage of the Vuelta a Espana to add to his Giro d'Italia and Tour de France wins. De Gendt also won a stage of the Criterium du Dauphine and subsequently spent five days in the leader's yellow jersey. At the Tour, De Gendt was a regular feature in the breakaways, spending over 1000 kilometres ahead of the bunch, but controversy lost the super combatif prize to Warren Barguil.

Now looking ahead to 2018, De Gent released a photo of his race calendar via Twitter, adding "First restday and i'm already writing down my program for next year (not complete yet)."

In 2018, De Gendt's calendar has him follow a similar schedule to recent years that starts with his seventh Tour Down Under in January. A third straight Cadel Evans Great Ocean Road Race completes his Australian start to the season. February is currently free of race days for De Gendt before resuming action at Paris-Nice. The 'race to the sun' has also been a favourite race in De Gent's career with the Belgian likely to secure a seventh career start at the early-March race.

De Gent's programme then includes the Volta Ciclista a Catalunya, also for a seventh time, with the Tour of Romandie and the Criterium du Dauphine stage races to follow. He has also included two of the Ardennes classics, La Fleche Wallonne and Leige-Bastogne-Liege onto his April calendar.

Skipping the Giro, De Gent has inked in a return to the Tour and Vuelta, potentially his sixth edition of both Grand Tours, and one final outing at the World Championships in late September. Should De Gent's calendar remain as written, it would be the first time in his career that he doesn't race through until October. Although De Gent added in a Twitter reply that "I don't have october yet."

However, the calendar is only provisional as De Gent's coach suggested in replying to his Tweet.

"And I thought we would discuss your program on November 10?" wrote Paul Van Den Bosch.

De Gent and Lotto Soudal are likely to finalise a calendar during November although the Belgian has made it clear which races he's most keen on for 2018. 

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