Thomas De Gendt crowns himself Vuelta King of Mountain

A dream that is finally fulfilled
Choosing the right escape. Attacking. Don’t look back. This is Thomas De Gendt. De Gendt isn’t just an ordinary cyclist. He’s an atypical rider without attitude who rather prefers to attack than to hide in the peloton's belly. Doing the lead-out for Greipel’s sprint? Too much wriggling. Warming up for a time trial? He doesn’t believe in that. A massage after the race? He prefers to feel the tingling in his legs the day after. And yet it is he who offers Belgium a mountain jersey again after 35 years, a phenomenon.

For Thomas De Gendt it’s a dream that’s finally fulfilled. After winning the mountain jersey in Paris-Nice, Catalonia and Romandia, he now adds the mountain jersey in the Vuelta to his honors. “This feels different than in Paris-Nice or Catalonia. This is so much bigger. Choosing the right escape is my specialty, but it was certainly not easy", said a delighted Thomas De Gendt just after the last stage.

13 Grand Tours. That’s what Thomas De Gendt needed to finally pull the mountain jersey around his shoulders in a three-week stage race. Initially he didn’t plan on making a goal of this mountain jersey. Before the start of this Vuelta, De Gendt scooped on a stage victory. When this didn’t work out, the Lotto Soudal rider start to focus on the mountain jersey from the thirteenth stage. And with success.

At that moment the Spaniard Luis Angel Maté turned out to be the biggest challenger. It was difficult to take points from him. So De Gendt waited patiently for his moment. In the end Maté became ill and it was up to the Lotto Soudal rider to collect points for the KOM jersey. The seventeenth stage proved to be crucial for the mountain classification. De Gendt took his fellow escapees in tow during the ride and reached the top of mountain as first 5x.

After his trip during the seventeenth stage, it became very exciting for the mountain classification during the last two mountain stages. An unleashed Bauke Mollema had also made a goal of the mountain classification during the last Vuelta week. The Trek-Segafredo rider was able to make up quite a few points, but bit off more than he could chew.

After the last stage in Madrid the wayward rider from the Flemish town of Kemzeke enters the podium in Lotto Soudal red and white. The bright lights are on him. In the background, the towers of the Palacio de Comunicacions are the setting for the ceremony. He puts on his mountain jersey, looks around and raises his arms one last time. After thousands of kilometers in the breakaway and 13 Grand Tours, this is what it's all about.  

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