Aware his chances would be slim in a sprint finish to Milan-San Remo on Saturday, Philippe Gilbert (Omega Pharma-Lotto) staked his claim for the title on a late-race attack at the race's famed Poggio.
“I gambled and lost,” he told Belgian news agency Belga of his ill-fated move. “With Oscar Freire and Daniele Bennati in the group, a sprint duel was not a good idea, so on the Poggio I went for all or nothing. It was nothing [in the end], even though I got away with Filippo Pozzato.”
On the descent off the Poggio Gilbert was able to come together with others, including Vincenzo Nibali (Liquigas), Thor Hushovd (Cervelo TestTeam) and Matti Breschel (Saxo Bank). However, the high-quality group were caught as the roads flattened out for the run into the finish.
“There was too much tailwind and the speed was too high to be able to get away,” Gilbert explained. He ultimately finished in 19th place, with the same time as winner Freire.
Gilbert was satisfied with his performance, saying, “I do not see why I should be disappointed. I did everything that lay in my power, and it didn't work.”
Like many of his Belgian compatriots, Gilbert was quick to highlight positive signals for the Classics that will shortly commence in their home country.
“If I learned anything, it is that there is not much more to improve on my condition for the Tour of Flanders and Liège-Bastogne-Liège."