Philippe Gilbert has admitted he has put "a little bit of pressure" on his Omega Pharma-Lotto teammates for the upcoming Ardennes Classics and especially for Liège-Bastogne-Liège on April 24, his big target of the spring.
The winner of the 2010 Amstel Gold Race has shown great form recently and took the honours at Brabantse Pijl on Wednesday, leaving no doubt that he will be a top contender at the races coming up on his home roads of Wallonne.
"My goal was to be at my best for the coming week," the Belgian told L'Equipe after his win on Wednesday. "I started the season well, winning three races [as well as Flèche Brabanconne - ed.], but I want to be at a 100 percent in Liège. It's a very different race, much harder, but to win here is already a good sign and gives me further confidence."
While Gilbert is certain of his own ability, he also needed his teammates to be at a certain level to support him at 'La Doyenne'. "I hope my team will be strong enough," Gilbert said. "I admit I've put a little pressure on them. Riders like Van Den Broeck or Bakelants have gone to prepare at altitude and we have remained in close contact so that I can follow their training. This victory is also to tell them that they didn't do their work for nothing."
The Omega Pharma-Lotto leader revealed that he was wary of possible attacks coming from teams that have several top men instead of just one designated leader. "I don't need to be protected during the first 200 kilometres, but if I want to beat Katusha with Kolobnev, Ivanov and Rodriguez, I'll need some help in the finale," Gilbert said.
"Last year in Liège, that put me into trouble. I found myself facing multiplerivals: Contador and Vinokourov, for example. There could also be the two Schlecks and I'm worried aboutthat situation a little."