Philippe Gilbert (Omega Pharma-Lotto) has moved to downplay recent speculation linking him with a move to Astana ahead of the 2012 season. The Belgian insisted that he is not currently contemplating his plans for next season, in spite of public overtures from his fellow Monaco resident, Alexandre Vinokourov.
“I regularly have the chance to train with riders who live in Monaco, like Hushovd, Vinokourov or Boonen,” Gilbert told Het Laatste Nieuws, before outlining his status. “I am under contract with Omega Pharma-Lotto and at the moment I am not speaking with any other team.”
Gilbert maintained that he will not discuss his future before August, and dismissed speculation linking him with a move away from Omega Pharma-Lotto as just that.
“After August 1, I will examine all options,” he said. “At the moment, I’m going to concentrate on this season and my set objectives. All the rest is pure speculation and rumours that are not significant now.”
The possibility first emerged publicly in December, when Eddy Merckx questioned Omega Pharma-Lotto’s ability to offer Gilbert absolute support and he named Astana as a possible destination for the Belgian.
The rumours then gained further traction in February when Alexandre Vinokourov told L’Équipe of his admiration for his sometime training partner Gilbert. “I think he could have a good understanding with Maxim Iglinsky,” Vinokourov said then. “He would be an extra source of motivation for our team.