Trailing in more than 17 minutes behind the day’s winner Jan Bakelants (RadioShack Leopard) should have spelled the end for Thomas De Gendt and his ambitions for the general classification at the Tour de France but the Belgian who finished third overall in the 2012 Giro d’Italia has not given up hope. De Gendt felt unwell prior to the start of the second stage and cited stomach problems at the finish as the main reason for his time lost on the road to Ajaccio.
"They just went too fast for me on the climbs," he told Sporza. "I felt this morning that I was not 100%. I have some problems with my stomach."
The second of the two categorised ascents, the Col de la Serra, proved too much for De Gendt who was already struggling to remain in contact with the main group.
"At first I was already struggling on the climbs and on the second they just went too hard. I blew myself completely. Maybe it was because of the heat. It is difficult when you have to drink lots and you have problems with your stomach."
It was at the Giro last year that De Gendt attacked on the penultimate Giro stage that finished atop the monstrous Stelvio and moved himself into podium contention, moving up the GC table from eighth to fourth with just Michele Scarponi and the final TT in his way. With some similar tactics employed at the Tour, he will undoubtedly hope to push himself back up the standings.
The Vacansoleil-DCM rider planned on achieving a top-20 position prior to the Tour’s start, along with the intention to go for the win at Alpe d’Huez and he can still reach that goal now that he has a little more freedom from immediately threatening the overall.
"I'm not disappointed. I did not expect to reach the top-five, the top-20 is still possible as there are many mountain stages. The stress now falls away, that's important. I will now get more space to go into an escape."
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