Philippe Gilbert’s long-term future at BMC Racing is far from clear after the 33-year-old's disappointing spring campaign. The Belgian is out of contract at the end of the season and has spent five years with the American-registered team but has yet to sit down with the team’s hierarchy to discuss a possible contract extension.
Gilbert started the season with intent, finishing sixth in the Dubai Tour and claiming a stage in the Tour of Murcia in March. However his Ardennes were ruined when he injured a finger in an alteration with a motorist during a training ride. Although he finished both Amstel Gold Race and Fleche Wallonne, he ruled himself out of Liege-Bastogne-Liege in a bid to concentrate on his recovery ahead of the Giro d’Italia – but on Sunday, the team confirmed that he would not be part of the nine-man roster for the Italian race.
This week BMC Racing announced that they had signed Greg Van Avermaet to a new contract, fuelling more speculation regarding Gilbert’s future.
"Well it’s a tough one because I’ve not seen him," BMC’s General Manager, Jim Ochowicz, told Cyclingnews when asked about Gilbert’s contract situation.
"I was in Belgium and I saw him getting ready for De Brabantse Pijl and that prep week. Then he had the incident and I didn’t want to bother him during Amstel because he was trying to get himself into the race. Then he left because he couldn’t race so we’ve not had any real contact. We’ll do that soon. We both need to sit down and talk about it."
Gilbert joined the team from Omega Pharma-Lotto at the start of the 2012 season and won the World Championships and a stage in the Vuelta during his first year with the team. Although he has not been able to match the year he had in 2011, when he won De Brabantse Pijl, Amstel Gold, Fleche Wallonne and Liege-Bastogne-Liege, he has still captured a number of high profile wins during his BMC time. Ochowicz stressed, however, that his priority was to meet with his rider in the coming weeks.
"We don’t have anyone who we necessarily want to leave the team but every rider is different in terms of how they are progressing and what the situation is. I don’t have an absolute answer. I want to talk to him and see what’s going on in his head too."