With the demise of Vacansoleil/DCM, pro cycling looks set to lose one of its most intrepid escapers, a rider with proper history on our shores to.
Thomas De Gendt burst on the scene in the UK when winning both the king of the mountains and king of the sprints in the 2009 Tour. It prompted me to write about him on road.cc at the time
“Picture the crowd gathering in Geraadsbergen on a cool April Sunday afternoon. The road is already closed and the they line up behind the barriers to trudge up the cobbled climb of the Muur.
The spots at the top by the church will have long since been taken by the eager Belgian fans topped up with coach loads of British and American fans who want a slice of the spring classics atmosphere.
After patiently waiting the sound of an appraoching TVE helicopter indicates that the the Tour of Flanders will soon be racing up the high street before hitting the cobbles and heading over the berg.
Children are hoisted on their parents shoulders. The Quick Step casquette on a little boys head reminds the fans around him that this is reformed veteran Tom Boonen's probable last chance of winning this 'monument' of the sport.
There is a breakway according to a radio blaring from a nearby bar. One Team Skyrider is in it.
And it is then that they arrive in a blur of colour and speed.
Edvald Boasson-Hagen of Sky and home rider Thomas De Gendt. Two giants of the sport and the best classic riders of their generation.
But wait... Haven't we seen these two riders somewhere before?
2009 was the year. The Tour of Britain was the race. Two truly world class riders came to the fore, cutting their teeth in the windy cold roads of the United Kingdom.
Pipe dream? or possibility?”
Now it looks as though he will be quitting the sport at the end of this season with no offers of a contract.
This is a man who finished on the podium of last years Giro winning on the Stelvio, a serial attacked who along with Jonny Hoogerland (also without a deal) lit up racing by being off the front and racing with the hearts as opposed to their heads
Heads filled with power meter data and race radio instructions.
A minor glimmer of hope came earlier in the week when the embers of Vacansoleil merged with Accent Jobs/Wanty to become “Team Wanty” for 2014.
Sadly the Manager of that team has gone public with his budget limitations. De Gendt (and for that matter Hoogerland) interest him, but are likely to be “too expensive”.
I hope this isn’t the way modern cycling is going. Teams like Sky with £10m budgets per season but loads of decent honest pros out of work.
As a TDG fan, I want him to get sorted and I want him to stay in the peloton. But I couldn’t blame him for thinking of jacking it in and doing something else.