Phillipe Gilbert (Omega-Pharma Lotto) enjoyed his day in yellow, but the Belgian champion has not given up on wearing the jersey again in this year’s Tour de France. Speaking to DH.be after Sunday’s team time trial around Les Essarts, Gilbert praised his teammates for making the best of a less than ideal situation.
"Doing a team time trial wearing the yellow jersey was a beautiful experience," he said. "And I don’t think we should be disappointed [about losing the jersey], because we gave it everything. With three guys crashing yesterday [Saturday] it was never going to be ideal."
Of those to go down, Jurgen Van de Walle went down the hardest, and is reported to have fractured his shoulder. Nonetheless Omega-Pharma Lotto began the stage with all nine riders and despite a fast start, they lost a chunk of time in the second five kilometres of the course. Gilbert now sits 32 seconds down on race leader Thor Hushovd but thinks that there is a possibility of retaking the yellow jersey.
"I don’t know if the deficit is too much to bring back - and if my time in yellow is now over. It may be too difficult to get that time back on Mûr de Bretagne. But the Tour doesn’t end on Tuesday. We can try and force splits on the windy days ahead," he said.
One thing the Belgian wanted to play down was his ambition for the green jersey. Despite currently leading the classification, Gilbert will look to chase another stage victory rather than focus on picking up points.
"For me the focus has to be on stage wins. Going for [intermediate] sprints costs strength that I would rather save for the finish," he concluded.