While the majority of the Tour of Qatar peloton will also tackle the Tour of Oman, Philippe Gilbert (BMC) has explained why he has chosen to forgo the second race on the Arabian Peninsula and return to Europe.
“In Oman it’s five degrees more than in Qatar. You’re riding in 30° heat and I’m worried about the effects of the change in temperature when I get back to Europe. You come back too close to Het Nieuwsblad and the risk of getting ill is high,” Gilbert said, according to Tuttobiciweb.
Belgian cycling’s ‘opening weekend’ of Het Nieuwsblad and Kuurne-Brussels-Kuurne takes place on February 25 and 26, and Gilbert believes the best way to hit the ground running in those early classics is to race and train in Europe beforehand.
“I prefer to come back straight away, get used to the cold in Europe and then race the Tour du Haut Var on February 18 and 19 so that I’m ready for the start of the northern classics season,” Gilbert said.
Gilbert raced in the first Tour of Oman in 2010, but missed out on the event last year when his Omega Pharma-Lotto team was overlooked for invitation to the races in the gulf region.
In spite of his misgivings about not competing in Qatar and Oman last year, Gilbert went on to enjoy a stunning classics campaign after following a European-based race programme in February. The Belgian seems keen to enjoy the best of both worlds in 2012.
Gilbert lies 23rd overall ahead of Friday’s final stage of the Tour of Qatar.