KOM Jersey for Thomas De Gendt in Tour Down Under

Satisfying start of the season with Rafael Valls ending 7th in the GC as well
The Tour Down Under has finished with a Lotto Soudal rider on the podium. Eternal attacker Thomas De Gendt grabbed the last KOM points around Adelaide and finished as best climber in Australia. With Rafael Valls ending 7th in the GC as well the boys in red had a satisfying start of the season. In the video below you can relive De Gendt's attacking spirit in the streets of Adelaide (starting from 1:09). 

The last stage of the Tour Down Under was a criterium in Adelaide. The riders had to cover twenty laps of 4.5 kilometres. A sprint seemed unavoidable. Although that didn’t mean there wasn’t any excitement. Thomas De Gendt battled for the KOM jersey.

Quite soon after the start, Thomas De Gendt escaped the pack together with Gianluca Brambilla. The two only got halve a minute advantage and after thirty kilometres the peloton already reeled them in. There were two KOM sprints in this final stage, in which each time a maximum of three points could be gained. Just before the first sprint some riders rode in front of the peloton, but Lotto Soudal caught them. Adam Hansen raised the pace with Thomas De Gendt on his wheel. Thomas picked up the three points and so he passed by Richie Porte in that classification. After the KOM sprint, a break of six got formed, including De Gendt. After a few kilometres De Gendt was riding in the bunch again as the escapees were no KOM contenders. Thomas De Gendt had conquered the KOM jersey.

As expected, the stage ended with a sprint. Many will have put their money on Caleb Ewan and indeed, the Australian rider won his fourth stage. Peter Sagan got second again, ahead of Marko Kump. Sean De Bie sprinted to the fifth place. It was his third top ten place this week. Rafael Valls finished seventh on GC, 1’02” behind overall winner Richie Porte. A very strong comeback after a season full of injuries. 

Thomas De Gendt: “Before the start, we had agreed within the team that we would keep the group together until the first KOM sprint. Sander Armée closed the gap on the escapees. Adam Hansen was in the right place at the right moment and he accelerated with me on his wheel. Adam knows what to do in these kind of situations thanks to his experience in the train of André Greipel. It’s thanks to the teamwork that I could pick up these extra points and can take the KOM jersey home with me.” “It’s always nice to win a classification in a stage race. Several of our sponsors are on the Australian market as well, so for them it’s great that a Lotto Soudal rider can go up on stage. For me this is a confirmation after the hard work I’ve done the past winter.”

Rafael Valls: “I am satisfied with my result here at Tour Down Under. It’s a good performance after all these months without competition. I felt good on training, but didn’t know how it would be during a race. The past week has proven that my condition is really well. This is good for the confidence.” “I already felt quite good on day one. The finale of the second stage, to Paracombe, was very explosive. I am glad I could follow the strongest riders in the race and that I finished in a group that battled for the fourth place. Also at Willunga Hill I was good, but at the end faster riders gained some seconds. So I could have ended up a bit higher on GC, as the gaps are very small. Richie Porte was the strongest rider in the race, there is no doubt about that. We are now staying another week in Australia and will participate in the Cadel Evans Great Ocean Road Race next Sunday. We want to do well again with the team.”

Watch De Gendt in action here (from 1:09)