Current UCI road world champion Philippe Gilbert says he is taking a more gradual approach to his pre-season training for 2013 which may begin in Australia at Tour Down Under. The Belgian attended the opening night at Lotto Zesdaagse Vlaanderen-Gent (Gent Six-Day) and listed Tour of Qatar and Tour de San Luis as other possible races to kick-off 2013.
Gilbert was on-hand at the six-day event in Gent and while not officially competing, he challenged Omega Pharma-QuickStep’s Gianni Meersman in an exhibition individual pursuit match which he won. The Belgian also said that training in the rainbow colours of a world champion has meant it’s difficult not to be recognised.
I'm starting slowly just because I am now world champion," Gilbert told Nieuwsblad. "If I go out for training, people recognise me much quicker."
"I do not know where I will go for my first race in 2013. I have the choice from Argentina [San Luis], Qatar and the Tour Down Under."
Unsure whether he will ride the Tour de France in 2013, Gilbert again reiterated the importance of the Ardennes Classics and that his participation in the Tour was still undecided. Gilbert is one of only two riders - after Davide Rebellin did in 2004 - to win the 'Ardennes triple'. The 30-year-old Gilbert achieved the feat in 2011 when he won Amstel Gold, La Flèche Wallonne and Liège-Bastogne-Liège.
"My participation in the Tour de France is an open question. Last year the start was in Liège so I was obliged to be at the start. I do know that I will once again target the spring classics like Milan-San Remo, the Tour of Flanders and the Ardennes."