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Belgian Philippe Gilbert (Silence-Lotto)
Belgian rider wins journalists’ accolade
2009 has been Philippe Gilbert's most successful season and the trophies keep rolling in. The 27-year-old Belgian has just been named as the winner of the trophy of the l'Association Internationale des Journalistes de Cyclisme (International Association of Cycling Journalists), the AIJC.
The annual award is based on three criteria, ethics, results and accessibility to the press. Gilbert secured almost half the number of total votes, 44 per cent, and thus succeeds the 2008 winner Paolo Bettini.
"I've never met a journalist who has told me anything negative about Gilbert," said AIJC chairman Gilles Le Roc'h, according to Sporza.
The Walloon moved to Silence-Lotto last winter and clocked up seven out of the team’s twelve wins this season. Following third place in the Ronde Van Vlaanderen and fourth in both the Amstel Gold Race and Liège-Bastogne-Liège, he registered the first of those victories on stage 20 of the Giro d’Italia in June.
A stage win and overall success in the Ster Elektrotoer followed later that month. A strong autumn campaign then brought him four consecutive triumphs, namely Coppa Sabatini, his second straight win in Paris-Tours, the Giro del Piemonte and a rousing sprint win over Olympic champion Samuel Sanchez in the Giro di Lombardia.
Gilbert was the clear favourite in that race but shrugged off the weight of expectation and the marking of others to triumph in Como.
He was presented with the AIJC trophy by Eddy Merckx. “I am honoured,” said the rider, who has been outspoken against doping. He was also voted Flandrien of the Year in October.