The Lotto Soudal duo set off from Como on Sunday morning and are covering the 1,000km journey in six days, carrying all their clothes and belongings as part of an end-of-season adventure. They will post updates on social media with the hashtag #TheFinalBreakaway.
“It is just to do something other than training or race, something fun with the bike,” De Gendt told Cyclingnews. “It’s riding your bike but without the pressure. You have to be at your hotel before dark and that’s it.”
De Gendt came up with the idea this summer. Several professional rides have started to swap racing for touring or bike packing adventures. Italy's Daniel Oss has completed two rides in Italy and Larry Warbasse and Conor Dunne rode an alternative #NoGoTour after their AquaBlue Sport team folded before the Tour of Britain.
De Gendt and Wellens chose to ride home to Belgium in six days, because a shorter time would have required more than 200km per day. De Gendt is a breakaway expert and Wellens a proven Classics contender, but neither want to race their way to Belgium.
“We didn’t want a mental or physical challenge. We just want to go home,” De Gendt said.
The day’s stages work out to 183km, 150km, 191km, 156km, 120km, and then a homecoming of 200km. Mountains are not to be avoided, with the two heading north via Switzerland.
“The first day we have the Gotthard Pass. It’s 44km long, so that’s the only really big climb. The third day we do the Grand Ballon, after that it’s not big climbs. The rest are very small, like five, six kilometres,” De Gendt explained.
Will their friendship survive the adventure?
“Right now we are good friends. We shall see after six days if that is still so,” De Gendt said.