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Thomas De Gendt: Stelvio Stage

disgruntledgoatdisgruntledgoat Posts: 8,957
edited May 2015 in Pro race
As I completely derailed the Wiggins thread with this, here's the translation of the Bahamontes article where De Gendt tells the tale, in his own words, of the 2012 Giro stage to the Stelvio that he won.

By popular (3 people!) request, I have undertaken to translate it for you all, from the Dutch, in peices.

First post is just the intro, I'll try and put up a bit more every couple of days.
"In many ways, my story was that of a raging, Christ-like figure who hauled himself off the cross, looked up at the Romans with blood in his eyes and said 'My turn, sock cookers'"

@gietvangent
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  • Last year, Thomas De Gendt passed on the Tour. He had another event on his calendar, his wedding. But this year, he aims for a high finish and a win in a mountain stage. Why not the one to Alpe D’Hez? He knows he can do it because last year, he won alone on the Stelvio.

    26 May 2012. Today is the Queen Stage of the Giro, on the programme is a finish on the Stelvio, 2758 meters above sea-level. Thomas De Gendt stands 8th in the GC. Today he wants to hold his position overall. He knows exactly how tough the Stelvio is- it’s his favourite training col- but the Mortirolo, the other monster on the programme, he doesn’t know. It is inhumanly hard, he has been told, and so the Vaconsoleil leader has adjusted the gears he has fitted: 32 at the front and 29 at the back. De Gendt has never ridden such small gears in a race.
    And look, the Mortirolo is not that bad. Perhaps because Thomas has good legs. Correction, less bad legs. After 3 weeks of Giro, nobody has good legs. De Gendt sits on the Lombardy mountain pass comfortably in the group of favourites. Ahead is a breakaway, but with no dangerous customers. Their progress stays within the limits. On the Passo Mortirolo the road is bad. It is a concrete road with pieces sticking out, so that the farmers can get up with their trailers in the rain. Handy for farmers’ trailers, but not for racing bikes. On the steepest part of the Mortirolo (26%), Thomas stands on the pedals. Not to attack, but in order not to fall. He looks behind. There’s nobody in his wheel. He takes 10 meters. Twenty. On the top, De Gendt has 40s advantage, but on the descent, Damiano Cunego and Mikel Nieve come across. Shortly after, the favourites group appears, De Gendt returns to the pack when Ryder Hejsedal, at that moment 2nd in the GC, sits up after long kilometres riding alone on the front, he wants the others to close it down. De Gendt and co close the gap to the early escapees and pull further away.
    In the valley, the board man gives the escapees 40 seconds. De Gendt gives his team mate Matteo Carrara, one of the early break, the order to ride hard. The gap keeps growing to the foot of the Stelvio!

    De Gendt himself tells the rest:
    "In many ways, my story was that of a raging, Christ-like figure who hauled himself off the cross, looked up at the Romans with blood in his eyes and said 'My turn, sock cookers'"

    @gietvangent
  • above_the_cowsabove_the_cows Posts: 11,318
    As I completely derailed the Wiggins thread with this, here's the translation of the Bahamontes article where De Gendt tells the tale, in his own words, of the 2012 Giro stage to the Stelvio that he won.

    By popular (3 people!) request, I have undertaken to translate it for you all, from the Dutch, in peices.

    First post is just the intro, I'll try and put up a bit more every couple of days.

    Dat was snel!
    Correlation is not causation.
  • 23KM To Go:
    “Now it’s serious. Me and Nieve are taking turns. Although I’m especially scared of Cunego, an ex winner of the Giro, I must also keep the Spaniard in mind. That guy won the queen stage of the Giro last year, so I know he can climb. I’m paying no attention to the early escapees, they’re just hanging on.

    17KM To Go
    “The first steep bit of the Stelvio. I hold to my tempo. No looking back, not yet. I’m scared of what’s behind. Nobody in my wheel? How can it be? I wasn’t going that hard!
    Nieve comes back, pretty easily it seems to me. I can barely hear him breathing. Cunego has it worse, he’s hanging about 20m back. Or is he acting? My DS Jean Paul Van Poppel says we have 3:20 advantage, he keeps saying that I must stay calm, “Not too fast! Still a long way!” Im not disagreeing, I’ve climbed this side of the Stelvio and know what a pig it is. I must ride my own tempo here, I mustn’t go over the limit. If I do that, the favourites will catch me, at best, 5km before the summit and I can say goodbye to a good place overall.

    15.5KM To Go
    Each time Nieve comes to the front the tempo drops. Nothing drastic, just half a kilometre per hour slower. Is he saving himself, or can’t he do any more? I think the first, otherwise he wouldn’t be able to stay following, so he certainly wouldn’t keep coming to the front. Cunego stays hanging at 20 metres. He’s making me nervous. What’s his plan? Is he still feeling good?
    Van Poppel shouts in my ear that I must let Nieve do the riding and sit in his wheel. I ignore his advice. I feel good enough to do my share. Plus, if I ride on the front I can set the tempo that suits me best.
    I ride with my jersey open. It’s not so hot, but the breeze on my chest gives me the feeling that I’m getting more oxygen in my lungs. If your heart rate is high, your body heats up. Every bit of cooling you get makes it fall a couple of beats.

    15KM To Go

    I eat a quick gel. I can’t eat solid food anymore, but i must eat as there’s still a good hour of climbing. I’ve had the bonk a couple of times training here and then every kilometre lasts a century.
    "In many ways, my story was that of a raging, Christ-like figure who hauled himself off the cross, looked up at the Romans with blood in his eyes and said 'My turn, sock cookers'"

    @gietvangent
  • MacaloonMacaloon Posts: 5,545
    Great stuff. Thanks fot this.
    ...a rare 100% loyal Pro Race poster. A poster boy for the community.
  • CrampeurCrampeur Posts: 1,065
    One of my favourite GT stages of recent years, cheers!
  • cc78cc78 Posts: 599
    I'm hooked. When do we get the next instalment?
  • Yellow PerilYellow Peril Posts: 4,466
    Enthralling stuff. thanks Goat.
    @JaunePeril

    Winner of the Bike Radar Pro Race Wiggins Hour Prediction Competition
  • milton50milton50 Posts: 3,856
    Thanks for sharing, goat.
  • rick_chaseyrick_chasey Posts: 57,423 Lives Here
    Good lad Goat.

    TdG's always been a bit of a dude.

    Can't ride the peloton for toffee mind...
  • dish_dashdish_dash Posts: 5,254
    thanks Goat, great effort... await the next installment when you have a sec...
  • 14Km To Go

    The first little tunnel. I ride a lovely tempo , but I'm definitely not going all out. Today, it's only 15 degrees but I've ridden up the Stelvio when it's 30 degrees. Then, these tunnels are little paradises of cooling. I know this section like my trouser pockets (great dutch expression!): long straight roads, not too steep and no hairpins.

    13.3 KM To Go

    Cunego has come back again. He goes straight to the front and accelerates. The sly fox! Nieve lets a little gap of 3 meters go. He wants to lure me out of my room One that doesn't really have an English equivilent, but you get what it means) Do I have to do the dirty work? The literal translation of this is something like "Pull the chestnuts out of the fire: Duffield esque) Sh!t! I can't let Cunego ride. I ride into the gap, really easily. We ride again into a tunnel. The light of the motos reflected against the walls. What a racket! When the motos are clear of the tunnel, I look behind. Cunego is exiting the tunnel 40 meters behind me and Nieve stil further! And I haven't even attacked! I must think back to the winning ride I did a couple of months ago in Paris Nice. I wanted to ride to the finish with Taramaee, until he attacked. Twice in fact. I came back to him twice and then attacked myself. The same is happening today. If Cunego doesn't attack, I'll stay longer with him and Nieve. Ok, I'll try and hold a higher tempo and see where I end up.

    12 KM To Go

    Van Poppel asks me if I'm not going too early. I don't think so.Uphill, there's no benefit to having companions, certainly not on a day like today with so little wind. Climbing is: finding the perfect tempo quickly and then stamping it. I stamp myself a road upwards. I think of nothing. I gasp adn I kick. The sound of Van Poppel talking in my ear, but I hear nothing he says so focused am I.

    Tune in tomorrow for more!
    "In many ways, my story was that of a raging, Christ-like figure who hauled himself off the cross, looked up at the Romans with blood in his eyes and said 'My turn, sock cookers'"

    @gietvangent
  • This is excellent - great work!
    Giant Trance X 2010
    Specialized Tricross Sport
    My Dad's old racer
    Trek Marlin 29er 2012
  • cc78cc78 Posts: 599
    Fantastic!

    Thanks for taking the time to post it
  • I remembered its our wedding anniversary tomorrow, so I'm not going to be able to do more. So, double helping tonight!

    11.5KM To Go

    The steepest bit of the Stelvio. 400 Meters at 14%. I shift to a smaller gear and hope that I don't topple over. If I look back, I can see Cunego still chasing. What a tough devil!

    10KM To Go

    The nicest part. One hairpin after another. The bends are less steep so I can use each one as a little launchpad, Cunego is 2 bends beneath me. From experience, I know that one minute is about 2 hairpins. My advantage is clearly growing.

    7.3km To Go

    Done with the hairpins. Now a straight section with a full headwind. Super tough! But I know that it doesnt last so long. Soon I'll come to a little church and then the sections become less steep, flat even. I pass a rock beside a stream. I recognise this place every time I've ridden the Stelvio since I was a junior on the Sweet Paradise- Quick Step team in a stage of Livigno. That day there was a load of these rocks falling. A cow had been hit by them and was lying in the stream. My DS had to ring the bell at the farm house and have the farmer come and finish it off. That farm bell is etched in my memory.
    "In many ways, my story was that of a raging, Christ-like figure who hauled himself off the cross, looked up at the Romans with blood in his eyes and said 'My turn, sock cookers'"

    @gietvangent
  • Yellow PerilYellow Peril Posts: 4,466
    I'm really enjoying this.
    @JaunePeril

    Winner of the Bike Radar Pro Race Wiggins Hour Prediction Competition
  • frenchfighterfrenchfighter Posts: 30,642
    Interesting to read this, thanks. Must be great when you have a day when your legs are relatively so smooth.

    The race:
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Vq0c_fvTa5Q

    The photos:
    http://www.steephill.tv/2012/giro-d-ita ... /stage-20/
    Contador is the Greatest
  • MacaloonMacaloon Posts: 5,545
    5km. Helicopters lobbing rocks. Oxen slain in rivers. Balding men lurking in the summit shadows. I look at Van Poppel - he knows what to do: dials PA to 11.
    ...a rare 100% loyal Pro Race poster. A poster boy for the community.
  • above_the_cowsabove_the_cows Posts: 11,318
    11.5KM To Go

    The steepest bit of the Stelvio. 400 Meters at 14%. I shift to a smaller gear and hope that I don't topple over. If I look back, I can see Cunego still chasing. What a tough devil!

    Oh god this brings back memories. That 14% section is a right devil, he's not wrong!
    Correlation is not causation.
  • disgruntledgoatdisgruntledgoat Posts: 8,957
    Sorry for the delay guys, we had some family problems that required a trip back to the UK and the Davitamon classic cyclo had Delerium for €1.80 a bottle and that wiped out last weekend!

    Anyway, on with the show!

    6.5Km To Go

    I still hear tension in Van Poppel's voice. Apparently, I'm virtual Magila Rosa by 4 seconds. Jean Paul believes that I can take it. I doubt it. I still feel good, but i know that the last kilometers are murderous. Also, I suspect the big guns are still to fire. It's just as likely they can still catch me.

    5.4km To Go

    A flatter section! 2 to 3%. Finally! If you are still good here, put it in the big ring and pull yourself along. But because of the headwind and the fatigue, I can't turn a big gear so well. But the little ones aren't so good either. A bad mentality falls over me. What if I puncture? Like 3 days ago, also on the last climb 3Km before the end? Then I' rode with a flat. A bike change would cost me more time. I lost 1min 17 to the winner, Joaquin Rodriguez. If that happens again today, I'll lose it.
    "In many ways, my story was that of a raging, Christ-like figure who hauled himself off the cross, looked up at the Romans with blood in his eyes and said 'My turn, sock cookers'"

    @gietvangent
  • disgruntledgoatdisgruntledgoat Posts: 8,957
    If anyone is interested, I got a back issue of the same magazine with Phil GIl talking through his worlds win in the same way. I could do that after i finish this
    "In many ways, my story was that of a raging, Christ-like figure who hauled himself off the cross, looked up at the Romans with blood in his eyes and said 'My turn, sock cookers'"

    @gietvangent
  • rick_chaseyrick_chasey Posts: 57,423 Lives Here
    Ja graag.

    In other news, Museeuw puts TdG's inability to ride in a peloton down to the fact the guy started racing late on in life (relatively speaking), and, furthermore, that's why the guy spends so much time in front of the peloton (i.e. in breakaways).
  • disgruntledgoatdisgruntledgoat Posts: 8,957
    Ja graag.

    In other news, Museeuw puts TdG's inability to ride in a peloton down to the fact the guy started racing late on in life (relatively speaking), and, furthermore, that's why the guy spends so much time in front of the peloton (i.e. in breakaways).

    I think I read yesterday that he's spent more time in breakaways than any other rider this year. Because he's the best.
    "In many ways, my story was that of a raging, Christ-like figure who hauled himself off the cross, looked up at the Romans with blood in his eyes and said 'My turn, sock cookers'"

    @gietvangent
  • dish_dashdish_dash Posts: 5,254
    If anyone is interested, I got a back issue of the same magazine with Phil GIl talking through his worlds win in the same way. I could do that after i finish this

    yes please!
  • disgruntledgoatdisgruntledgoat Posts: 8,957
    4km To Go

    It's getting a bit steeper.

    Van Poppel says my advantage is getting smaller. I don't care. I'm fighting against myself now, not Hesjedal or Rodriguez. I ride with my jersey closed again. We're approaching the snowline and it's starting to get cold. I drink a little. I even want to get rid of my bidon to save a little weight but I remember what an old team leader once told me: A bike with a bidon is more aero than a bike without. Only details, but maybe these details can make the difference.

    3.1km To Go
    I see some Belgians on a bend. I can even read the sign in his hand. "Full gas Thomas! Full gas!" Apparantly then, I'm not going so fast any more, if I have time to read that sign... A bit further on there are some people with a Belgian flag. It looks as if everyone here is Belgian! Also, the Italians are cheering me like i'm one of their own. A fantastic feeling,
    "In many ways, my story was that of a raging, Christ-like figure who hauled himself off the cross, looked up at the Romans with blood in his eyes and said 'My turn, sock cookers'"

    @gietvangent
  • disgruntledgoatdisgruntledgoat Posts: 8,957
    2.8km To Go

    I'm feeling empty on the last steep part of the Stelvio. Above 2500m, the thin air plays tricks on me. It has a percentage between 8 and 9 and, after a pair of snow piles, there is little or no shelter from the wind. I note that I'm only riding at 16kph. I want to stand on the pedals to drive up the speed, but I have to sit down again after 2 seconds. My legs are completely filled with lactic acid (the dutch here just says "acidified". Arf). I'm starting to believe that I can win the stage. With some luck. If I don't fall over. If the favourites are still waiting to turn on the gas. If.. if...

    1.5km To Go.

    What shall I do if I win? Throw my hands in the air? Make a little heart especially for Evelien (Mrs. De Gendt)? Punch the air? Stupid to think of that now. I'd be better off pushing the pedals harder. I'm still looking behind. Cunego isn't coming back. The realisation comes gradually. If I don't stop completely, I'll win the race.
    Still more supporters come running alongside me. It just needs one to fall over his shoelaces and I'm on the ground. I remember Guerini, taken out by a fan with a camera on his way to Alpe D'Huez on the Tour in 1999. Guerini fell, but still won the stage. Since then I've learned that a racer must always hold his line. The fans will eventually move aside. But it's not only the fans, i'm scared of the cars which brush past me at dangerous speeds.

    (In the Vuelta, 4 months later, Thomas was on his way to a stage victory when his front wheel was clipped by a car and he almost ended up in the crowd. He managed to close the gap back to his fellow escapee, Dario Cataldo but it cost him a lot of energy that the Semmerzakenaar (Suburb of Gavere where De Gendt is from, same place as the Cross) couldn't ride with the Italian afterwards. )
    "In many ways, my story was that of a raging, Christ-like figure who hauled himself off the cross, looked up at the Romans with blood in his eyes and said 'My turn, sock cookers'"

    @gietvangent
  • disgruntledgoatdisgruntledgoat Posts: 8,957
    800m To Go

    I am completely knackered. I'm weaving here and there, hunched over my bike. Does anybody want to push me? In the Tour in 2011, a Spanish guy ran alongside me and began to push. He was asking "Bidon? Bidon?" After he'd pushed me nearly 100m I gave him my bidon. In thanks, he pushed me another 100m. Why isn't that Spaniard stood here? I've still got a bidon to spare!

    300m To Go

    The last corner! Now I am completely certain that the victory is mine. I've won a stage of the Giro! On the Stelvio! Meanwhile, Van Poppel is still shouting that I must ride to the line, that it's important for my place in the GC. I want to sprint, but i can't. I can't get out of the saddle anymore.

    The Finish

    I want to do a victory salute, throw my arms triumphantly in the air, but it doesn't work. I am completely dead, getting huge cramp. I'm glad just to get one arm halfway up. I shake my head incredulously. Me? WInning on the Stelvio? Impossible! But it is true! I feel tears coming but I hold it it. Real men don't cry. Especially not on top of the Stelvio.
    "In many ways, my story was that of a raging, Christ-like figure who hauled himself off the cross, looked up at the Romans with blood in his eyes and said 'My turn, sock cookers'"

    @gietvangent
  • AnonymousAnonymous Posts: 79,678
    Absolute gold. I bet the editors would cream themselves to publish that in English.

    Thanks v much dgg
  • disgruntledgoatdisgruntledgoat Posts: 8,957
    Just tuned in in time to see De Gendt putting himself in with a chance at todays stage in Turkey
    "In many ways, my story was that of a raging, Christ-like figure who hauled himself off the cross, looked up at the Romans with blood in his eyes and said 'My turn, sock cookers'"

    @gietvangent
  • cc78cc78 Posts: 599
    that was terrific, thanks again

    and yes please to the Phil Gil one!
  • MacaloonMacaloon Posts: 5,545
    Great stuff. Thanks.

    de-gendt-wins-640x440.jpg
    ...a rare 100% loyal Pro Race poster. A poster boy for the community.
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