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De Gendt trash-talks 'virtual Flanders' competitors: I hope the Bkool system can handle my power

Lotto Soudal’s Thomas De Gendt on the attack on the final stage of the 2020 Paris-Nice
Lotto Soudal’s Thomas De Gendt on the attack on the final stage of the 2020 Paris-Nice (Image credit: Getty Images Sport)

In a conference call for Sporza.be on Thursday, Lotto Soudal's Thomas De Gendt attempted to psych out the competition for Sunday's 'virtual Tour of Flanders' by wondering out loud whether the Bkool system it will take place on will be able to handle his power output.

It was, of course, a lighthearted reference to De Gendt being pulled from a Zwift race this week after his power output was deemed to be too high, and elicited laughter from his fellow pro riders on the call: Remco Evenepoel, Wout van Aert and Trek-Segafredo's Jasper Stuyven.

The online race is being dubbed 'De Ronde 2020 Lockdown Edition', and will replicate the final 32km of the real Tour of Flanders course using the Bkool online cycling platform, while Sporza will broadcast it.

As well as De Gendt, Stuyven, Evenepoel and Van Aert, the race will also feature Evenepoel's Deceuninck-QuickStep teammates Yves Lampaert and Zdenek Stybar, Van Aert's Jumbo-Visma teammate Mike Teunissen, CCC Team's Greg Van Avermaet, Oliver Naesen (AG2R La Mondiale), Sunweb's Michael Matthews and Nicolas Roche, and De Gendt's Lotto Soudal teammate Tim Wellens.

De Gendt was disqualified from a race on online virtual cycling platform Zwift this week after reaching 550 watts of power – effectively going 'too fast'. Riders' speeds are judged by their power-to-weight ratio, and, to try to prevent people from cheating – i.e. inputting a lower bodyweight in order to go 'faster' – Zwift sets limits for what is considered realistic power output.

The 33-year-old Belgian took the disqualification in good humour, and later asked Zwift on social media: "I got thrown out of a race because of my superhuman power. Can you fix the stats for me?"

He later told Het Nieuwsblad: "On a climb, I just did the numbers that I more or less push in a race. Suddenly I was blocked and neutralised by the game.

"The numbers were not so special. For a while [I did] 500 to 550 watts. As a cycling tourist it may be unrealistically high, but for us as pros it is more or less normal if you want to win a race," he said.

On Thursday, on the conference call with some of his competitors for Sunday's online race, De Gendt helped to lighten the mood during the ongoing coronavirus crisis with some old-fashioned trash talk.

"Hopefully the [Bkool] system can handle my power," he joked, to everyone's amusement. "I'll test again today or tomorrow whether it can handle my wattages."