Gilbert to leave BMC at the end of the season

Belgian could be on his way to Astana

Philippe Gilbert has confirmed that this season will be his last in BMC colours and that he has had contact with other teams with a view to a deal for 2017 and beyond.

The Belgian is out of contract at the end of this season and, with BMC's Classics leader Greg Van Avermaet recently extending his stay at the American team, question marks have been raised over Gilbert's future. The 33-year-old, speaking to media outlets ahead of the Tour of Luxembourg prologue on Wednesday, confirmed that he would be moving on at the end of the year. 

"I have spent five great years at BMC and achieved some excellent results," he said. 

"I'm in contact with certain teams but nothing will be communicated before the 1st of August," he added, referring to the opening of the UCI's transfer window, when deals can be made official.

"I still want to be able to perform at the highest level. I'm only 33 and I still feel capable of great things, especially in the Classics. The Tour of Flanders remains a big objective for me."

Cyclingnews understands from multiple sources that Astana is the most likely destination for Gilbert. Their spring Classics leader Lars Boom is out of contract at the end of the season, while Vincenzo Nibali, who won Il Lombardia last year as Gilbert did in 2009 and 2010, is set to join the new Bahrain team. Diego Rosa, who won Milan-Turin last year and helped Nibali to victory at Lombardia, is expected to step up in the hilly Classics but is considering offers from other teams, with Team Sky seemingly leading the way. 

Peter Sagan, winner of this year's Tour of Flanders, has also been linked with a move to the Kazakh team

Gilbert has won Amstel Gold race and stages of the Vuelta a España and Giro d'Italia while at BMC - along with wearing the world champion's jersey - but hasn't hit the dizzying heights of 2011, which featured an Ardennes triple, that earned him the move to the big-budget American team.

The Belgian confirmed he will not ride the Tour de France this year and that after Luxembourg he will go to the Tour de Suisse, followed by the Belgian nationals and the Tour de Pologne. After that he'll aim to make the five-man Belgian squad for the Olympics road race. 

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