De Gendt, who admitted he struggled with the expectations of his compatriots in the immediate aftermath of his breakthrough stage win at the Giro d’Italia in 2012 – “Everybody back in Belgium went crazy, I wasn’t stressed but I didn’t want to disappoint them” – added that it was “a bit of a relief” that much of his career as a domestique-come-breakaway specialist been spent under the radar.
However, the 32-year-old whose season resumes at the Cadel Evans Great Ocean Road Race in Australia on Sunday following last week’s Tour Down Under, warned the public that they should not expect too much, too soon, from the first-year professional, as he has seen on previous occasions in the cycling fish bowl that is Belgium.
“When Jasper Stuyven was a neo-pro and he started riding well they immediately compared him with [Tom] Boonen. He was, according to the media, the new Tom Boonen.”
“The spectators and fans expected big things from Jasper Stuyven and expected him to be like Boonen, but now are a little disappointed because he has not won Tour of Flanders or Paris-Roubaix. It was unfair because he is a good rider who has won some really nice races [including a stage at the Vuelta a España and the prestigious one-day Kuurne-Bruxelles-Kuurne]. But the media created an image of him which, in the public’s eyes, he didn’t live up to.”
Deceuninck-Quick Step – who topped the 2018 WorldTour rankings – have also named Julian Alaphilippe, Álvaro Hodeg, Iljo Keisse, Maximiliano Richeze and Petr Vakoc in their six-man team for the seven-stage Vuelta a San Juan Internacional.