A relief for Gilbert

By Jean-François Quénet Last year's winner of Belgian opening classic Het Volk Philippe Gilbert...

By Jean-François Quénet

Last year's winner of Belgian opening classic Het Volk Philippe Gilbert (Française des Jeux) had been forced to wait for eight months before collecting his first win of the 2007 season, but it finally came on the Tour du Limousin's Stage 1. Gilbert out sprinted Pierrick Fedrigo (Bouygues Telecom), Oscar Pereiro (Caisse d'Epargne), Clément L'Hôtellerie (Skil-Shimano) and Anthony Charteau (Crédit Agricole).

The Belgian had a rough summer, suffering a virus during the Tour de France, and then was a non-starter in the Pyrénées after enduring a day alone in front of the broom wagon. He recovered enough to claim the silver medal in the Belgian Time Trial Championship, despite a crash in the finale. All of those pains were lifted as he raised his arms in victory, except for one which became apparent during his victory salute. "My shoulder is still painful", he said after winning in La Souterraine.

Gilbert was happy to have finally won this season. "With 18 kilometers to go, six of us went away," Gilbert explained. "I was fortunate to have Benoît [Vaugrenard, French Time Trial Champion] with me. He did a superb job when he led me out 300 metres from the finish. It wasn't an easy sprint to win. I felt [Oscar] Pereiro was really strong and [Pierrick] Fedrigo is also a fast finisher. But I'm really happy with this win."

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