Thomas De Gendt and Tim Wellens are almost halfway through their 1000km journey home from Il Lombardia. The ride, which the Lotto Soudal riders have dubbed #TheFinalBreakaway has taken them through northern Italy, and Switzerland thus far with day three due to bring them through France.
Having stopped off in Saint-Louis, just beyond the border with Switzerland, the two Belgian riders will continue northwards on a 191km route through the Vosges and over Le Grand Ballon. The climb has featured seven times in the Tour de France, first in 1969 and then most recently in 2014.
The ride home from Il Lombardia follows in the footsteps of Aqua Blue Sport riders Conor Dunne and Larry Warbasse, who did their own #NoGoTour after their team pulled out of the Tour of Britain. Bora-Hansgrohe’s Daniel Oss has also done similar adventure rides in Italy as an alternative way of keeping fit but enjoying the ride.
The whole trip will take Wellens and De Gendt six days and they are travelling as normal cyclo-tourists and carrying all their equipment and supplies on their bikes. There has been no need for grabbing musettes from the side of the road or hurriedly scoffing down a gel at a pertinent moment.
After riding Il Lombardia on Sunday, where Wellens finished fifth, the duo set off on Monday morning. Day three is the longest so far having ridden 186 kilometres from Como on the opening day, and 150km the following day. The length of the journey chosen is to allow De Gendt and Wellens to take their own time and avoid going above 200km on a single day. From Thursday, the routes will be 156km, 120km with the final ride home the longest at 200km.
Both Wellens and De Gendt have been dutifully capturing their ride with photos and videos, capturing the beauty of the mountains in autumn and their lunches and dinners along the way.
It marks the end of their season with the pair racking up 154 race days between them while Wellens took seven wins and De Gendt two during the season, with the latter claiming several classification jerseys including the mountains title at the Vuelta a Espana.