Gilbert keen to return to the cobbles

BMC rider still hopes to win Flanders and Roubaix

Philippe Gilbert (BMC) has said that he yearns to return to the cobbled Classics of Flanders, even if it were to impact on his performance at the Ardennes races. 

In the past, Gilbert has ridden both but the cobbled Classics were removed from his race calendar for 2014, as the BMC team looked to regain the Belgian’s form of 2011. After a year away from the pave, the Belgian is keen to make a return in 2015.

"I crave to go back to the Flemish Classics. I would like to race at Omloop and Kuurne. I miss those races," he told Belgian newspaper Het Laatste Nieuws, referring to the opening weekend of racing Belgium at the end of February.

In 2014 Greg Van Avermaet took the role of team leader at the Flemish races and finished second at the Tour of Flanders, with Gilbert focusing on the Ardennes week, where he won Amstel Gold.

Gilbert is one of only two riders to win all three races: Amstel Gold, Flèche Wallonne and Liège-Bastogne- Liège, in the same Ardennes week, equaling Davide Rebellin's feat in 2011. His success on the cobbles has been somewhat tamer, with two victories at Omloop Het Volk (now known as Omloop Het Nieuwsblad) in 2006 and 2008. His best result at the Tour of Flanders is two podium finishes in 2009 and 2010, he has yet to secure a monument victory on the pavé.

While Gilbert would like to rectify that statistic, he admits it is unlikely.

"My dream is to win every classic at least once. I just have Milan-San Remo, Tour of Flanders and Paris-Roubaix (remaining). I would even sacrifice Liege-Bastogne-Liege to specifically prepare for Roubaix," he explained. "In those (Ardennes) Classics I score major WorldTour points but I cannot guarantee this at Flanders and Roubaix."

Gilbert's intentions may be admirable, but BMC directeur sportif Valerio Piva quickly poured cold water over the idea, reflecting BMC's strategy.

"Philippe's calendar has not been defined but I am not in favour of this plan. It is good that he wants to compete anytime, anywhere but this is modern cycling and it isn't possible," Piva is reported as saying in Het Laatste Niewuws.

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