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"Right now I don't want to think about specific goals for the season — there's plenty of time for that. However, my objective is to get back to the level I was at in 2012. I'm going to work towards reaching this goal...

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SOUDAL - QUICK STEP

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THOMAS DE GENDT

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VACANSOLEIL-DCM PRO CYCLING TEAM

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04.10.2013 @ 17:50 Posted by Emil Axelgaard

Following months of uncertainty, Thomas De Gendt has finally found a team for the 2014 season. The Belgian has signed a one-year contract with Omega Pharma-Quick Step where he hopes to find back to his 2012 level.

 

The demise of the Vacansoleil team had put the futures of several riders into the air. One of the most prominent victims appeared to be Thomas De Gendt who struggled to find a new team in a market that has been dominated by collapsing team and several free riders.

 

For a long time, De Gendt stayed loyal to Vacansoleil in the hope that the team would secure a new sponsor. However, that never happened and instead the Belgian was left scrambling for a new contract elsewhere.

 

He was rumoured to be up against Jan Bakelants in the running for the 30th and final spot on Omega Pharma-Quick Step but appeared to have lost out when the signing of Bakelants was announced. However, Janier Acevedo broke a verbal agreement with the team by signing a contract with Garmin-Sharp, making room for an additional rider on the roster.

 

That final spot has now been taken by De Gendt who has signed a one-year contract with the team. This puts an end to months of uncertainty with the Belgian having been adamant that he wanted to stay at the WorldTour and having stated that he would end his career if a solution hadn't been found at the end of October.

 

De Gendt broke onto the scene in 2011 when he won stages of both Paris-Nice and Tour de Suisse. However, his real standout performance was delivered at last year's Giro when he finished 3rd overall after winning the queen stage to the top of the Stelvio climb.

 

This season has been a troublesome one for De Gendt who has been unable to find his former strength. He won the final stage of the Volta a Catalunya from a breakaway but otherwise hasn't produced any significant results.

 

Omega Pharma-Quick Step manager Patrick Lefevre is convinced that De Gendt can find back his former level.

 

"We've been following Thomas with considerable interest for some years now," he said. "Our paths almost crossed a few times these past couple of years but due to a series of choices and contingent situations, the deal never came through. Now the time has come; we were sort of reciprocally destined to meet again sooner or later."

 

"We believe Thomas is talented. We've been following his sports history. An athlete who can win a stage at Paris-Nice, one at the Tour de Suisse, the reigning stage in the Giro and even take 3rd place in the race for the pink jersey definitely cannot have lost all his skills in just a few months. We're certain that Thomas has everything it takes to make a return and prove himself as part of our group. We've offered him a one-year contract with the conviction that for him, it can be a year of redemption.""

 

De Gendt is fully focused on getting back to this best.

 

"I'm very happy to become a part of this group," he said. "I've always dreamed of being a part of a something like this, ever since Tom Boonen won the Worlds in Madrid in 2005. OPQS is one of the top teams, very professional in all aspects and with absolutely competent people in every sector. For a rider this is very important, like it's important to feel the faith of Patrick Lefevere."

 

"Right now I don't want to think about specific goals for the season — there's plenty of time for that. However, my objective is to get back to the level I was at in 2012. I'm going to work towards reaching this goal and to redeem the trust the team has placed in me."

 

With the signing of De Gendt, there is no room for more riders on Omega Pharma-Quick Step and so the rumoured signing of Igor Anton appears to have come to nothing.

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