Thomas de Gendt signs one-year contract with Omega Pharma - Quick-Step
Omega Pharma - Quick-Step have announced the signing of Belgian rider Thomas de Gendt.
Last Updated: 04/10/13 3:23pm
The 26-year-old finished third overall in last season's Giro d'Italia but has endured a difficult 2013 campaign, finishing only 96th at the Tour de France and abandoning a clutch of other high-profile races.
Omega Pharma - Quick-Step chief executive officer Patrick Lefevere said that despite his struggles in the past 12 months, previous stage wins at the Giro, Paris-Nice, Tour de Suisse and Volta a Catalunya prove De Gendt's pedigree.
He said: "We have been following Thomas with considerable interest for some years now. We believe Thomas is talented.
"An athlete who can win a stage at Paris-Nice, one at the Tour de Suisse, the queen stage in the Giro and even take third place in the race for the pink jersey definitely cannot have lost all his skills in just a few months.
"We are certain that Thomas has everything it takes to make a return and prove himself as part of our group. We have offered him a one-year contract with the conviction that for him, it can be a year of redemption."
De Gendt produced one of the finest rides in recent years on stage 20 of the 2012 Giro by attacking 50km out on the Passo di Mortirolo and then pressing home his advantage to win on the summit finish on the Passo dello Stelvio.
The performance lifted him to fourth on the general classification, and he then stole third overall with a strong performance in the final day's individual time trial in Milan.
De Gendt is now determined to return to those heights with Omega Pharma - Quick-Step.
He said: "It is important to feel the faith of Patrick Lefevere. 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."
De Gendt is the second rider with general classification credentials to have signed for Omega Pharma - Quick-Step after Rigoberto Uran agreed to join from Team Sky.
Vacansoleil-DCM will fold at the end of the season and merge with Accent.jobs - Wanty to form a new Pro Continental tour team.