Belgian champion Philippe Gilbert is confident that further racing, and especially more climbing, will bring him back to top form in time for the Olympic Games in London. The BMC rider, whose results have been disappointing since the beginning of the season, has just completed the Critérium du Dauphiné and is looking foward to the Tour de France to get back to the shape that helped him take one victory after the other in 2011.
"I haven't been great so far this year," Gilbert told Sporza. "But I continue to believe in it. I'm sure it's going to be alright.
"In the Dauphiné it was all for Evans at BMC, but I also raced hard. In the Tour, there will be a lot of uphill kilometres to tackle, too, and that always does me good. I'm getting stronger from climbing."
Gilbert is specifically aiming to be on top for the Olympic road race on July 28. "The Tour is my set-up to be in shape for the Olympics. There's one week between the Tour and the Games. That has to be enough," he explained.
But before the French grand tour starts in Liège - close to the Belgian's home - the 29-year-old will try to defend his national jersey in Geel on June 24. "Of course I'd like to ride wearing the jersey for another year," Gilbert insisted, even though "the parcours doesn't really suit me. But at the national championship in Antwerp, I got on the podium and it was completely flat. Moreover, last year it was almost completely flat, too.
"[Tom] Boonen is of course the favourite. He'll be racing in his backyard and will thus be very motivated. But I'm certainly not going to the start thinking that I'll lose!"