Thomas De Gendt may have ridden more than 12,000 kilometres this season across 87 days of racing, with a few more still to come, but the Belgian will be adding 1,000 more onto it as he plans to ride home to Belgium after Il Lombardia next week.
De Gendt, who has not raced since the Vuelta a Espana, is set to head to Italy for three more races before he concludes his season, ending with Il Lombardia on Saturday, October 13. De Gendt will make this epic journey with Lotto Soudal teammate Tim Wellens, who will head to Lombardia after recently racing at the UCI Road World Championships in Innsbruck.
According to a post on social media by De Gendt, all the logistics have been planned, hotels booked and luggage has been tested for the six-day ride. In the past, De Gendt has travelled home from the Tour de France in the team's bus, but this takes it up a notch or two.
"We throw all of our luggage on the bike in Italy and then move back from hotel to hotel. Just at ease, without big haste," De Gendt told Het Neiuwsblad.
De Gendt was speaking at an event in Gavere, Belgium, that was held in his honour after he won the mountains classification jersey at the Vuelta a Espana. De Gendt was once again a regular feature in the breakaways, and though he didn't manage to match his stage win from the 2017 event, he won the mountains competition by 12 points over Trek-Seagfredo's Bauke Mollema.
It has been a long season for De Gendt after he began racing at the Tour Down Under at the end of January. Since then, he has taken two wins at the Volta a Catalunya and the Tour de Romandie. He finished second in the time trial at the Belgian national championships and has taken the mountains classification in Romandie – as well as the points jersey – and at the Vuelta a Espana.
In the ceremony on Tuesday, De Gendt was given a basket of local beers and handed the mayor a signed mountains classification jersey. The Belgian joked that he had not yet found a good place for his own.
"Has my jersey as a king of the mountain already got a nice place? For the time being it is still in a heap in the chair," he said.