Currently at his first training camp with the BMC team in Denia, Spain, Philippe Gilbert has begun sketching out the early part of his 2012 season. He will begin his campaign at the Tour of Qatar in February, before making his European debut as a BMC rider at the Tour du Haut-Var.
Gilbert missed last year’s Tour of Qatar as his Omega Pharma-Lotto team was not invited to the race, but the Belgian champion will be on hand in Doha from February 5-10. Rather than move on to the Tour of Oman, however, Gilbert will return from the Arabian Peninsula to race the two-day Tour du Haut-Var on the weekend of February 18-19.
“For him, that is the best preparation for the Flemish opening weekend,” BMC manager John Lelangue told Het Laatste Nieuws.
While Gilbert is certain to line up at Omloop Het Nieuwsblad on February 27, he will delay making a decision on whether to take part in the following day’s Kuurne-Brussels-Kuurne.
“He’s sure to ride Omloop, but we’ll only decide about Kuurne after the race on the Saturday,” Lelangue said.
As was the case in 2011, March sees Gilbert head to Italy to fine-tune his preparation for Milan-San Remo. He will defend his Strade Bianche crown in Siena on March 3, before heading to Tirreno-Adriatico, the traditional build-up race to La Classicissima.