Vacansoleil's Thomas De Gendt hopeful for a good result in today's Brabantse Pijl
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Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Vacansoleil's Thomas De Gendt hopeful for a good result in today's Brabantse Pijl

by Jered Gruber at 6:06 AM EST   comments
Categories: Pro Cycling
 
Last year's runner-up wants to take a step higher on the podium

Thomas De Gendt, last year's runner-up at the Brabantse Pijl, is hoping to move up a step on the podium this afternoon.

The 24 year old Vacansoleil rider has already made an impression this year with a stage win, a stint in yellow, and some overall notable riding at Paris-Nice. As the racing heads into the Ardennes, the young talent will look to continue his growth on the terrain that suits him well.

Looking ahead to today's race, De Gendt is respectful of the unquestioned big favorite, Philippe Gilbert, in a conversation with Sporza.

"My condition is not bad, but I think Gilbert is the favorite. He will have fresh legs."

Within his own team, De Gendt will struggle to get a chance for victory. His two captains, Devolder and Leukemans, are perfectly suited to a race like this.

"I respect the hierarchy. Björn Leukemans and Stijn Devolder are the leaders, but I might go for an early break."

In a race like the Brabantse Pijl, with its difficult parcours, often becomes a race of attrition with groups spread about the route. Heading into a race like today's with three possible winners does not seem a liability, but rather a major plus. Vacansoleil will field two riders who finished top ten in last year's edition - De Gendt was second and Leukemans was seventh.

"I'm going to try to win at least. We must get around the big loop first, and then in the local rounds, see who among our Vacansoleil team has the best chance. Maybe I can play my own cards, because my condition is not poor."

So far, the 2011 season has not been ideal for the newly minted Dutch ProTeam. The Ricco and Mosquera cases have been painful to endure from the outside, let alone from within the team, that, coupled with a disappointing trip through the cobbled classics would seem to put pressure squarely on the shoulders of the Vacansoleil team.

De Gendt, however, says that pressure is not an issue and notes: it's still only April.

"There is not really pressure, no. The team hopes to get on the podium in some of the upcoming big races, but the season is still very long. We will participate in the Giro, Tour, and Vuelta - a stage win would be very nice to get."

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