Gilbert to skip Tour de France

Belgian confirms World Championship as key objective

Philippe Gilbert has ended speculation about his participation in the 2010 Tour de France, confirming that he will not compete in the French race. The Omega Pharma-Lotto rider said he will race the Vuelta a España in preparation for the World Championships road race in Australia.

Last week, Gilbert's team manager Marc Sergeant indicated the chances of Gilbert competing at the Tour as 50/50, but that the final decision would be left to the rider himself. The Belgian classics rider now seems to have made his final decision.

"It hasn't been on my programme for a long time," said Gilbert, according to French language newspaper Nouvelle La Gazette. "I've raced the Classics and I'll do the Vuelta before the Worlds. To do [the Tour] would be crazy."

Gilbert's latest confirmation comes as little surprise. The Belgian had indicated as early as November last year that he would skip the 2010 Tour de France in favour of the Vuelta-World Championships double.

He last raced the Tour de France in 2008, the last of his four participations in the race with Française des Jeux. Since joining the then-Silence-Lotto squad in 2009, he has shifted towards a programme dominated by one-day events.

The 27 year-old's change of focus has already paid dividends this year at the Spring Classics. He won Amstel Gold Race and assumed first position in the International Cycling Union's world ranking after finishing fourth at Liège-Bastogne-Liège. The world title is his major goal for the second part of the season.

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