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Philippe Gilbert (Omega Pharma-Lotto) smiles before the start
Belgian out to retain UCI ranking in Romandie
After an already successful spring classics campaign, in which he won the Amstel Gold Race and came close to victory on several other occasions, Philippe Gilbert intends to take advantage of his current form in the Tour de Romandie. Through his good results, the Omega Pharma-Lotto rider took the top spot of the UCI rankings last Sunday in Liège-Bastogne-Liège and now wants to hold on to this position for as long as he can.
The Tour de Romandie will thus serve as a re-match between Gilbert and Alejandro Valverde, who could be a threat to his top placing, as the Caisse d'Epargne rider is only 11 points adrift of the Belgian.
"My form is right, so I want to take full advantage of it," said Gilbert to Belgian newspaper La Dernière Heure. "Last year, I missed out on the race's top ten by a hair, but this year I think it is possible. I studied the stage profiles well."
The stage race taking place in Switzerland will certainly be decided in the event's two medium-mountain stages this week-end, as well as in the 23.4km-long individual time trial on Thursday. Although he is not a specialist in the race against the clock, Gilbert was confident ahead of the test.
"For once, I will race [a time trial] flat out, I like the idea," he continued. "When I'm in good form and motivated, I think that I can achieve good results there, too." In Tuesday's prologue, Gilbert lived up to his promise, finishing 10 seconds behind the winner with the same time as Denis Menchov (Rabobank).
On top of beating Valverde to remain number one of the UCI ranking, Gilbert will confront some of the best stage racers like Ivan Basso and Roman Kreuziger (Liquigas), Menchov, Christian Vande Velde (Garmin-Transitions) and Michael Rogers (Columbia-HTC) on his hunt for a top ten overall placing.