Philippe Gilbert does not believe that working for Cadel Evans at the 2012 Tour de France will have a negative impact on his Olympic Games aspirations. One of a number of marquee acquisitions for BMC ahead of next season, the Belgian insisted that he is prepared to put his shoulder to the wheel in support of Evans’ defence of his title.
“I think that in general the riders who are at the Tour de France will have an advantage for the Olympics, so it’s definitely a good thing to ride the Tour,” Gilbert told reporters in Paris after the route presentation. “The Olympics are something very different, but it will still be a good approach.”
With the London 2012 road race taking place on Saturday July 28, riders who finish the Tour will have less than a week to recuperate ahead of the Olympics. Gilbert dismissed the idea that he might temper his support of Evans in the Tour’s final week in order to preserve his energy.
“It’s not a problem, you can never work too much,” he smiled.
The 2012 Tour will thus see Gilbert reprise the kind of support role he played at the 2009 Vuelta a España, when he and Evans were teammates at Silence-Lotto. On that occasion, Gilbert was using the Spanish race to fine-tune his form for the world championships in Mendrisio, a race that Evans would ultimately go on to win.
“I’ll be very happy to start the Tour alongside Cadel, who will be wearing number one and setting off with the ambition of winning again,” Gilbert said. “That’s going to be a great experience.
“I did a Vuelta a España with Cadel in 2009, which he almost won. In the end, he was third. I helped him to the best of my ability and that’s certainly what I want to do in 2012.”
Gilbert will be on home roads as the Tour gets underway in Liège, and the opening road stage to Seraing appears well-suited to his talents. Nonetheless, he reiterated that he has been signed by BMC to head up the squad’s classics challenge, and that any attempts to win a stage would be contingent on Evans’ circumstances.
“If Evans were in yellow after the prologue, for instance, then the whole team would ride for him,” Gilbert pointed out. “I’m at BMC to win the classics and help Cadel Evans at the Tour de France. That’s what I was signed for, and that’s what I want to do too.
“It’s a big challenge for me because I’ve got a lot of things to do. I want to do a full season and I’ve got a lot of motivation.”