While he admitted that he didn’t have the legs to compete for the win, Gilbert believed that a lack of information about the gap to the winning break frustrated BMC’s efforts to bring the race back together in the finale.
Twice a winner of the Omloop, Gilbert’s hopes of adding a third triumph disappeared at the foot of the Taaienberg. When winner Sep Vanmarcke (Garmin-Barracuda) and Tom Boonen (Omega Pharma-QuickStep) hit the front, Gilbert was poorly placed in the heart of the peloton, and a subsequent puncture on the Eikenberg definitively ended his challenge. He went on to finish 41 seconds down in 31st.
“I wasn’t in the race,” Gilbert told dhnet.be. “I was there without being there. I didn’t have good legs. I was always fifteen or twenty places too far back and in these conditions, you can get caught up in a crash or puncture…”
While his teammate Thor Hushovd had initially succeeded in following the winning move sparked by Vanmarcke and Boonen, Gilbert complained that information was hard to come by in the absence of radio earpieces.
The BMC riders in the peloton were unaware that Hushovd had been dropped from the lead group, and they only began to organise their pursuit inside the final 15 kilometres.
“Racing without earpieces doesn’t bother me, but it’s not normal not to have any information,” he said. “I only saw the chalkboard once and it was only with 15km to go that John Lelangue was able to fill us in and tell us that Thor had been dropped.
“At that moment we started to ride, but it was too late, we knew that it was only for 4th place. In the end, Greg [Van Avermaet] was 5th, which isn’t bad, like the fact that there were five of us in that group.”