Gilbert won't defend Grand Prix de Wallonie title

Boonen pre-race favourite

Defending champion Philippe Gilbert (BMC) will be missing from the start line in Chaudfontaine for the Grand Prix de Wallonie when the 203km race gets underway on Wednesday. He will instead continue his preparation for the UCI Road World Championships which begin next week.

Gilbert won the 2011 event from Julien Simon (Saur-Sojasun) and Björn Leukemans (Vacansoleil - DCM) with a two-second margin - just one of 18 victories for the Belgian in an all-dominating season. Gilbert also won the Grand Prix de Wallonie in 2006.

Gilbert's Belgian teammate Tom Boonen (Omega Pharma-QuickStep) will be racing however and is coming off a last-up win at Paris-Brussels.

Other notable riders on the start line include Greg Van Avermaet (BMC), Thomas De Gendt (Vacansoleil - DCM), Oscar Freire (Katusha), Jakob Fuglsang and Jens Voigt (RadioShack-Nissan).

Last week, Andy Schleck (RadioShack-Nissan) announced he would not be racing as he had earlier planned as he was still in pain from his fracured pelvis.


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