By Brecht Decaluwé in Wevelgem
Aurélien Clerc (Bouygues Telecom) wasn't named as a podium favourite for the 70th edition of the Belgian semi-classic Gent Wevelgem, but nevertheless the Swiss featured there in the end, next to winner Oscar Freire (Rabobank). While still sipping from the bottle of champagne offered to him, Clerc replied to Cyclingnews' question about whether he was satisfied with his second place in Wevelgem.
"Well, although I had good legs, Freire did create a big gap on us, so I'm not too disappointed. Of course, a win in a race like this would've been fantastic," Clerc daydreamed about what might have been. He then stepped Cyclingnews through his sprint, which he started in the best possible position. "I sat on Freire's wheel, and that wheel delivered me a great result," Clerc explained with a smile.
The Bouygues Telecom rider didn't feature in the first group of about 25 riders that had a gap cresting the Kemmelberg for the second time. Cyclingnews asked him if he had a bad moment on the famous cobbled climb, with its new descent. "I knew the course on the Kemmelberg well, as I rode here during the Driedaagse van West-Vlaanderen. I ended up riding in the second group, but realized that all would come back together before the finish. While some were battling to get away from the peloton, I focused on getting ready for the sprint, with this great second place as fantastic result."
Next Sunday, Clerc will head to Paris-Roubaix, although he goes into it with slightly different ambitions. "I like the cobbles a lot, and I want to be present in the race as long as I can. But winning isn't what I expect to do." Clerc smiled before joining his team-mates in the bus, "Right now, we'll enjoy the champagne a little more."