Not that many Wallonians have won great classics in recent years and before Philippe Gilbert, one of the more famous ones was Claude Criquielion, who raced in the 1980's. Criquielion won Flèche Wallonne twice (1985 and 1989) and the Ronde van Vlaanderen in 1987. Criquielion thinks that Gilbert now has his head clear to take out other important classics.
Criquielion didn't miss the final kilometres of yesterday's race. "Those are the most interesting ones," the former World Champion explained to Belgian newspaper La Dernière Heure.
Criquielion was quick to assess that Française des Jeux rode a perfect race. "Placing a teammate up there in the front, that is often seen in the mountains of the Grand Tours. But in a classic, it is really hard to accomplish, even if the directeurs sportifs can imagine the scenario beforehand. Because without Delage up front, I don't think the break would have succeeded. The peloton was really close in those final metres."
Criquielion was happy for a fellow Wallonian to take the victory. "It's a great win for Philippe Gilbert. He is showing those guys who thought he wasn't capable of holding up on a distance over 250km. Now, with this great victory, he will be liberated in the future. And he can tell himself if he can win one, he can win others!"