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Gilbert regrets early season start at Tour Down Under

Cycling News
April 29, 2013, 06:58,
April 29, 2013, 07:58
First Edition Cycling News, Monday, April 29, 2013
Tour of California
Philippe Gilbert

Philippe Gilbert

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Riding the Tour de France a possibility after winless Ardennes

For the second year-in-a-row Philippe Gilbert has gone without a win in the Ardennes Classics or to be more specific, simply a win in the opening four months of the season. The reigning world champion had previously voiced his preference for longer stages at the Santos Tour Down Under, where he returned after a five-year hiatus this season but now it's travelling to Australia and the demands placed on the world champion that have seen him change his tune.

"It was wrong to ride the Tour Down Under," Gilbert told Nieuwsblad. Opening his season at the first WorldTour race of the year, the travel associated with attending Down Under and the extra demands that surrounded the man with the rainbow jersey was all too much for Belgian who won a stage at his last participation in 2004.

"The travel was too heavy. You really need a month in advance for travelling [to Australia] and it was also stressful. Everyone wanted a piece of the world champion," he said.

The Ardennes were of course a major target for Gilbert but as seen at La Flèche Wallonne, the favourites placed a considerable amount of responsibility on the shoulders of the former winner and essentially helped to mark him out of the race on the final ascent of the Mur de Huy.

"In the finals of the [Ardennes] classics there was a huge burden because everyone looks at you. It was quite different from wearing the Belgian champion jersey."

With nearly half the year already behind him and without a victory to show for it, Gilbert is considering riding the Tour de France to remedy his lack of winning results. If he had won one of the three Ardennes classics: Amstel Gold, La Flèche Wallonne or Liège–Bastogne–Liège he may have skipped the French grand tour but as it stands, he could be on the start line when the race begins on 29 June - if he is selected.

"If I had won a classic in the spring, I would have probably ignored the Tour [de France]. But I have not won and that is a big disappointment," said Gilbert.

"I need the Tour now. But there is absolutely no guarantees. There are 14 or 15 riders for 9 places. Only Cadel Evans and Tejay van Garderen are certain."

With a team that will likely see the former winner Evans and a potential rider for the podium in the form of van Garderen in the mix, Gilbert's role could mean putting aside his personal ambitions for the greater good. In addition a rider of Gilbert's quality and characteristics may not suit the US ProTeams ambitions to win the general classification.

"I won't be there to help in the mountains but that does not mean I take the place of someone else. There is Evans and van Garderen but we do not have any other real climbers in the team," he said.

Gilbert still has plenty of commitments before a possible start of the Tour with the 30-year-old headed for the United States and the Tour of California for his next race.

"The BMC is registered there and it's an important race but I also wanted to go. I've never been to the United States and I've heard the race has huge crowds."


agostinho More than 1 year ago
Gilbert, the travel from Europe to California isn't also "too heavy"? Or the problem is that you need some excuses to explain your lack of results and that's why Australia is faraway?
derBazi More than 1 year ago
Its the curse of the rainbow jersey.
Jmsbar More than 1 year ago
And many of the Australians seem to do OK when they travel to Europe each year. May be more to do with the change of 'preparation' along with the change of teams from 2 years ago.
Roadman73 More than 1 year ago
The year Cadel worn the WC Jersey in 2010. 1st - Stage 7 'Giro d'Italia,1st - Fleche - Wallone 3rd GP de Wallone, 3rd-Tirreno-Adriatico 5th - Liege-Bastogne-Liege He rode these and other races so BMC would be selected as a WILD CARD for the TDF while also doing all World Champion PR events and interviews. All this after finishing 6th overall at the Tour Down Under in 2010. This is a very weak excuse Gilbert is using.
PabloM More than 1 year ago
Cadel won the World Road Title in 2009. He felt compelled, as an Australian, to wear the rainbow jersey in front of his home country and support the Tour Down Under. He ended up having a fairly poor year by his standards. Too much racing he said. He made amends in 2011 by racing far less (including missing the TDU) and won the Tour de France. Your argument is a little flawed.
Roadman73 More than 1 year ago
Gilbert's argument was that the reason he has had a poor start to the season was because he started the year in Australia, Cadel who i said WORN the World Champions Jersey in 2010 knowing full well he won it at Mendrisio in 2009. He did not feel compelled to race with the Jersey at the TDU but to bank goodwill on BMC's behalf which would put them in a better position for WILD CARD spots in World Tour events which includes the One-Day Monuments. Cadel knew full well that he would not have the year he wanted but was riding for the BMC team's benefit.
Evan Shaw More than 1 year ago
Although it sounds weird is it possible that he is overtrained. Not in the usual way, but that others are doping again and he is NOT and as a result is trying too hard and going backwards. His own career arc does not suggest doping. Not one of us knows but for me he is a clean rider and a very talented one.
avantage More than 1 year ago
It's a lot of nonsense. I'm sure he was marked, but it wasn't like he was out of contention... He was simply failed to deliver the power when needed. But just as last year, he can bounce back in some style.
Homekat More than 1 year ago
Why is everyone here so mean-spirited?
mintcake More than 1 year ago
Because it's easier to drag someone down to their level rather than build them up? Makes them feel better in their inadequacy? Tall poppy syndrome? Armchair heroes? Gets a bit tedious doesn't it!
OMG795 More than 1 year ago
I used to be a big fan of Gilbert, but I'm not so sure of him now.
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