After more than a month on the sidelines, Philippe Gilbert is set to make his racing return for Quick-Step Floors at this week’s Belgium Tour. His teammate Niki Terpstra is also due to race again for the first time since his crash at Paris-Roubaix last month.
Gilbert was forced to pull out of the Ardennes Classics after already winning the Amstel Gold Race due to a tear in his kidney, which he suffered in a crash during the Dutch race. The Belgian national champion was cleared to train at the end of April but has not raced since, after a particularly busy spring campaign.
Joining Quick-Step Floors from BMC this season, Gilbert joined them at the cobbled Classics where he took podium places at Dwars door Vlaanderen and E3 Harelbeke before winning the Tour of Flanders with a dramatic solo breakaway. Two weeks later, he beat Michal Kwiatkowski to take his fourth Amstel Gold Race victory.
However, it was confirmed by the team that he had suffered a tear in his right kidney. The injury would force him to miss the remaining Ardennes races and also ruled him out of the Giro d’Italia. The Belgian press reported last week that Gilbert is now likely to ride the Tour de France.
Terpstra will join Gilbert at the Belgium Tour after crashing heavily at Paris-Roubaix earlier last month. The Dutchman suffered a serious mechanical failure in his steerer tube during the race, causing him to crash heavily. He avoided any broken bones in the incident and returned to training in late April but an arm injury, which was picked up at a later date, delayed his training. Terpstra has done some racing in the last month, competing in the Nijmegen criterium two weeks ago.
The Quick-Step Floors line-up for the Belgium Tour will feature many of their cobbled Classics riders, with Dwars door Vlaanderen winner Yves Lampaert, Tim Declercq, Petr Vakoč and Julien Vermote. French neo-pro Rémi Cavagna will complete the line-up. The team will be without defending champion Dries Devenyns – who was riding for IAM Cycling at the time – as he is competing at the Giro d’Italia.
The Belgium Tour will begin on Wednesday, May 24, with a 176.3km stage from Lochristi to Knokke-Heist, and concludes on May 28 with a 177km stage from Tienen to Tongeren.