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Gilbert to make Milan-San Remo prime classics target in 2014

By:
Cycling News
Published:
October 18, 2013, 12:38,
Updated:
October 18, 2013, 18:40
Edition:
First Edition Cycling News, Friday, October 18, 2013
All smiles for Philippe Gilbert (BMC) as he awaits the start of stage 15 at the Vuelta

All smiles for Philippe Gilbert (BMC) as he awaits the start of stage 15 at the Vuelta

  • All smiles for Philippe Gilbert (BMC) as he awaits the start of stage 15 at the Vuelta
  • Two-time Il Lombardia champion Philippe Gilbert leads BMC teammate Greg Van Avermaet
  • Philippe Gilbert (BMC) heads to the start of stage 13

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Belgian enthusiastic about new course

Philippe Gilbert (BMC) will make the revamped Milan-San Remo the focal point of his 2014 spring campaign, as he believes the altered parcours will eliminate the pure sprinters from contention.

Race organisers RCS Sport last month announced that the stiff climb of Pompeiana, with a maximum gradient of 14%, will now feature in the finale of Milan-San Remo, between the Cipressa and the final ascent, the Poggio.

“I was happy to see that San Remo is better for me and I will focus on this,” Gilbert told reporters on Friday. “San Remo is a race I love and I would love to win. I’ve been on the podium a few times and I’m still convinced I can win this and now even more.”

Even ahead of this year’s race, 2009 winner Mark Cavendish said that the insertion of the early climb of Le Manie had severely limited the sprinters’ chances of winning on the Lungomare Italo Calvino. While Le Manie has now been removed from the course, Gilbert reckons that the addition of Pompeiana makes the race even harder for the fast men and greatly improved his own prospects.

“The riders make the race, but if we climb that climb with real climbing speed, I don’t see any sprinters – apart from Sagan of course – being able to follow,” Gilbert said. “Sagan is the exception, because he can climb, sprint and even TT, but the other sprinters, I don’t see a chance for them.”

Indeed, so enamoured is Gilbert by the Milan-San Remo course that he is planning to hit peak condition in late March rather than during the Ardennes classics in late April. “I’ve won all of the Ardennes and I haven’t won San Remo. For me the big goal is to be 100 percent of my capacity on the start of San Remo,” he said.

Gilbert was speaking at BMC’s unusually early 2014 team presentation in Grenchen, Switzerland. Even though the 2013 campaign is still not quite over – the Chrono des Nations closes the European season on Sunday – Gilbert explained the rational behind the unusual timing.

“It’s better to take this time during a rest period than in a training period. Last year, we spent three days doing this before going to Australia [for the Tour Down Under], so in the end, I lost six days [due to travel] and that’s a big loss in training for January,” said Gilbert, who hinted he was unlikely to return to the Tour Down Under in 2014.

“It’s always been nice, but for me it’s harder and harder to fight the jet lag and the temperature differences. When I was younger it was easier.”

Unclear also is Gilbert’s participation in the Tour de France, where he would be required to ride in support of Tejay van Garderen. “I can work for someone else when he is able to win. When he can do something, I can sacrifice myself, but not for nothing,” Gilbert said.

During this year’s race, Gilbert had expressed mild frustration at the team’s failure to support him on the opening stages in Corsica, although a week later, it was announced that he had penned a two-year extension to his contract with BMC.

Immediately after the Tour, BMC parted company with team manager John Lelangue, and he has since been replaced by the experienced Valerio Piva, who arrives at the team after a successful two-year stint with Katusha.

“It’s a new mentality for the team. It’s still the same sponsor and the same name but we can feel it’s a different way to feel cycling and to work,” Gilbert said. “There’s a lot of change, a lot of new people coming and we can feel that they are all motivated to work and do this job.

“I think everyone will show he is professional. When this comes from the staff and the direction, it goes automatically to the riders. I guess and I hope it will help us.”

taborpolkadots More than 1 year ago
PhilGil, Sagan, EBH, & Pippo for MSR '14?
Cance > TheRest More than 1 year ago
How can u forget Cancellara????????????????
Uncle_Tod More than 1 year ago
True... don't leave a good Tom Boonen out of the mix though... he has something to prove after his disastrous 2013 campaign.
Peter von More than 1 year ago
Valverde, Jrod and Nibali might have a go with the new route, but obviusly they'll have to bring a very strong team to make the race hard enough for them to have a chance, but especially Nibali is going to be very strong for this race and Astana will bring everything they've got which could change the dynamic of the race completely. Also Chava must not be forgotten he is very strong so early in the year and on the new team he will be undisputed leader in everything he lines up for..
HeadPack More than 1 year ago
And maybe Degenkolb? He seems to be a fast finisher who can't be dropped that easily on shorter power-climbs. At the other end of the spectrum I agree Purito should be in the mix.
barthvos More than 1 year ago
Is this the same man who appealed Brian Cookson about races becoming too difficult? Or has he got a twin brother with a different opinion? The pressure in the media will be huge in March after this statement. And when he wins MSR the pressure will be even bigger prior the Ardennes classics. Why not ask ASO to search for steep climbs in Paris-Roubaix?
Dan Vella More than 1 year ago
Why on earth does he continue to stick a big target on his backÉ
jbones More than 1 year ago
In all fairness he has a target on his back regardless of what he targets. If he is in top form like he was in 2011 or last year's world champs he was the guy to beat. At the worlds coming in to the last climb it wasn't a question of if but when he will go so anyone interested in winning knew they had to go with him. He went and no one could stick with him (you could argue that some were waiting for someone else to bring it back together).
Cance > TheRest More than 1 year ago
TBH I actually find it to be a smart move by Gilbert. Obviously he cannot win the more hilly classics anymore, so why not focus on a race that suits the powerful riders better? He could do well in MSR, but still needs to get away, cause he will be outsprinted by pretty much some of the big favourites (Sagan, Cancellara, Pozzato).
Dan Vella More than 1 year ago
And no one will let him get away on his own. The same reason Cancellara only wins a small amount of the races where he is by far the strongest guy. I just think that he has foolishly removed a bit of ambiguity that could have given his rivals pause for thought, long enough to actually get away.
Brian Handy More than 1 year ago
I don't think we can say he can't win the hilly classics any more just 2 &1/2 years after he swept, nay dominated, the Ardennes. It's true, he's had trouble finding form at BMC, but that's not to say they're out of his reach. And he has a MUCH stronger sprint than Spartacus. Pozzato? Hahaha...
SourKraut More than 1 year ago
Unlike previous commenters, I in fact know exactly how this race will end.
sbroaddus More than 1 year ago
hence, the name sourkraut.
TANK91 More than 1 year ago
I doubt Cancellara will win it again, the guy only can really win 1 way,even though he is the best too watch, i think Cancellara is slowing down eventually, look at Stybar and Vanmarke at Roubaix never once in trouble following Fabian. And then their is Boonen, who we know beats Cancellara every time unless he gets dropped, and Sagan who surely this year will be the man too beat.
TANK91 More than 1 year ago
Duh, next year i meant.
JantonStentenan More than 1 year ago
First of all, if you think the only typo in that post was when you said "this year" by mistake, then maybe your son should be walking you to the bus stop in the morning. And Boonen beats Cancellara everytime unless he gets dropped? I guess what you're saying is Cancellara loses evertime, except when he wins. Does that make any sense at all?
barthvos More than 1 year ago
E3 Harelbeke 2010. Cancellara won and Boonen was second at 3 seconds, Flecha was third in Boonen's wheel. Pozzato was fourth at 50 seconds, the first of the droppped riders. Cancellara attacked in thje final km. Cancellara slowing down? Have you seen the classics in the spring? Oh yes you post that Vanmarcke could follow Cancellara and guess what? Cancellara won in the sprint. He won in yet another way. Sagan was the first big name to drop on the first serious climb in Il Lombardia this year so a steep climb in MSR just before the Poggio will complicate the race for him.
Peter von More than 1 year ago
I hope the team gives Gilbert a free role at the Tour, how big are the odds that Tejay will be so strong that he needs help from all 8 of his teammates? Ideally Garderen would help Gilbert in some of his big targets like San Remo and Liege, doing those races helps Garderen improve as a rider and it makes it more likely that Gilbert will help him out on a stage or two in France should it be required. Gilbert could also help remove some pressure from Garderen if he got and early stage win in the Tour, that would probably do more to help Garderen than any domestique could ever do.