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Thomas De Gendt in action during the Vuelta a España
Breakaway king Thomas De Gendt confirms 2024 will be his final season
'Now is the right moment' says Belgian of decision to retire
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The 37-year-old broke the news on Twitter on Saturday morning before talking to GCN exclusively.
“2024 will be the start of my 16th and final season as a pro. My big goals are a 6th stage win in Volta Catalunya and a 2nd stage win in Vuelta a Espana. But above all, enjoying every race I will do in my final year,” he wrote on social media.
De Gendt has enjoyed a long and distinguished career, finishing on the podium of a Grand Tour and collecting stage wins in the Giro d’Italia, Tour de France and Vuelta a España. During his career he almost singlehandedly refined the art of the breakaway specialist, leading to a wave of riders replicating his style of racing.
However, the Belgian told GCN that it was time to hang up his wheels.
“It’s not really sad news and it would have come sooner or later. Now is just the right moment to make it the final season instead of going for another contract,” De Gendt told GCN during a training ride on Saturday.
“It’s the right time to stop and I’ll be 38 at the end of my current contract. That’s a nice age to retire. If I could really choose I would stop in 2025 at the Giro when they finish on the Stelvio but to be honest I don’t I have a chance of getting a contract for that season. The kids are getting older too, and they’re starting to complain about me being away from home for so many weeks. It’s good to have a final season and then we’ll see.”
The end of 2024 is still over a year away, and if De Gendt does have a winning season in 2024 there is still the smallest of chances that he could change his mind. No doubt that despite his advancing years there would be interest from several WorldTours teams should he decide to push his career for an additional campaign.
“I can always change my mind if I get the best legs again. Then I could postpone it for another year but it’s quite definite. My highlights were the wins of course, winning in a Grand Tour was always a dream and I did that five times, so that’s a nice accomplishment. I’ve not won that many races but I’ve had a nice career,” he told GCN.
“It’s still my goal to win a race, it’s just getting that much harder. In 2022 I could still win in the Giro, so I’m confident that I can still be competitive.”
Retiring from the pro world would end a major chapter for De Gendt, Belgian cycling and the peloton as a whole. De Gendt turned pro with Unibet in 2006 but really announced himself on the global stage at the Giro d’Italia in 2012 with Vacansoleil-DCM. On an epic day of racing the Belgian broke clear from the main field and soloed to an emphatic win on the Stelvio. The stage win catapulted De Gendt onto the podium, finishing third overall in Milan.
After the Giro the Belgian morphed his career into a breakaway specialist, picking up stage wins in multiple races, while also devoting himself to his teammates as a loyal super domestique. He won stages in virtually every WorldTour stage race, and picked up the KoM jersey in the 2017 Vuelta a España.
“Maybe I even motivated other riders to do the same, and showed them that you don’t always have to wait in the bunch for the end of the race. I wish that the Pogačars and Evenepoels didn’t do the same, because that’s made it harder to win races but maybe I showed some young guys how to win a race even if you’re not the best at climbing or sprinting,” he told GCN.
“I don’t know what’s next so I’m accepting job offers for 2025.”
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