De Gendt renews contract with Lotto-Soudal through 2022

Breakaway specialist to keep hunting for stages at the Tour and Vuelta when racing restarts.

Breakaway king Thomas De Gendt isn’t going anywhere. The popular Belgian stage-hunter renewed his contract with Lotto-Soudal for two more years.

Since joining Lotto-Soudal in 2015, the 33-year-old has refined his barnstorming breakaway antics, with a day-long escape at last year’s Tour de France one of his most recent successful skirmishes. He has also taken stage wins at a host of week-long races, the Giro d’Italia, and the Vuelta a España.

“It was so obvious for me. It never entered my mind to change teams. Why should I?” De Gendt said Tuesday. “I’ve known this house already for six years. Honestly, I have never been interested in another team. Lotto-Soudal knows me and gives me the freedom I need, a freedom that I would never get somewhere else. In the past, we have won many nice races together. I am convinced that together we still have nice years ahead of us.”

Despite hailing from Flanders, De Gendt’s heart lies in sniping for stages rather than clattering over cobbles. He is slated to be starting his season at the Tour de Pologne, August 5-9, before lining up for his eighth Tour de France later in August. After working for his teammates at the classics, he will race the 18-day Vuelta in fall.

Lotto-Soudal was one of the first teams to scale back salaries and lay off temporary staff when coronavirus shuttered the season. The renewal of De Gendt is a positive sign for the team’s future, said general manager John Lelangue.

“I am happy to see that Thomas loves his current environment,” Lelangue said. “He can win races but is a perfect team player as well. This contract extension is good for the stability and continuity of the team. Thomas understands that Lotto-Soudal really has a vision. Moreover, he has been so successful and loyal to the team. We need him. With Thomas we continue to build on the team’s future. More agreements will be announced soon.”