At the Santos Tour Down Under, Thomas De Gendt (Vacansoleil-DCM) took out both intermediate sprints as well as the day’s only king of the mountain on stage 3 to Victor Harbor, but the Belgian has his eyes on a bigger prize – the general classification.
De Gendt has fond memories of the Australian WorldTour event; he was second on stage 4 last year, behind eventual overall winner Cameron Meyer (GreenEdge). That result marked the start of an impressive 2011, one where the 24-year-old rode to victories in Paris-Nice and the Tour de Suisse, as well putting in a strong time trial in Grenoble in the Tour de France.
It prompted the Belgian to ask his team specifically to start his season again in Adelaide for the Tour Down Under, a race he credits for much of last year’s results. With the newly introduced hill-top finish at Willunga and the bonus seconds from today, De Gendt could actually make his general classification hope a reality.
"More often than not, the Tour Down Under is decided by a matter of seconds," said De Gendt. "Taking bonus seconds here and there can make a big difference. You need to be able to hang on though on Willunga.
"The pace up Willunga is going to be really quick this year. I think the average up the hill will be four km/h faster – so it’s going to be a lot harder."
De Gendt’s time trial ability means he prefers a smooth fast climb, turning over that diesel to stay with the peloton rather than hitting out early.
"I like to start at the back and just turn keep riding my own pace. I think I’ll start the climb on Saturday somewhere in the top 40 and that should be okay.
"We will try, that's all we can do, after [Willunga] we will have no regrets."
De Gendt sits in fourth overall ahead of today’s 130 kilometre stage 4 from Norwood to Tanunda.
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Alex Hinds, Production Editor
Alex Hinds is a graduate of Economics and Political Science from Sydney University. Growing up in the metropolitan area of the city he quickly became a bike junkie, dabbling in mountain and road riding. Alex raced on the road in his late teens, but with the time demands of work and university proving too much, decided not to further pursue full-time riding.
If he was going to be involved in cycling in another way the media seemed the next best bet and jumped at the opportunity to work in the Sydney office of Cyclingnews when an offer arose in early 2011.
Though the WorldTour is of course a huge point of focus throughout the year, Alex also takes a keen interest in the domestic racing scene with a view to helping foster the careers of the next generation of cycling.
When not writing for Cyclingnews Alex is a strong proponent of the awareness of cyclists on the road in Sydney having had a few close run-ins with city traffic in the past.
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