"My season ends badly, just as it started," World champion Philippe Gilbert said with an ironic smile, following the crash that forced him to abandon the Giro di Lombardia on Saturday, the last race of his his 2012 season. The Belgian hit the tarmac on the descent of the Muro di Sormano, sustainiing abrasions but no serious injury and went out for an end of season ride with Montecarlo neighbours Alexandre Vinokourov and Maxim Iglinsky on Monday.
"Nice crash for me!" the BMC rider tweeted just after the race, adding a "souvenir!" photo of his blood-stained rainbow jersey on the social media network. "I think a 9.5 on 10. Then I was KO with the cold. 6 guys from BMC crashed....the must important nothing broken!"
Gilbert's reactions indicated that he does not believe in the curse of the rainbow jersey. "It's true that I don't crash very often and I abandon races even less," he told DHnet. "If it had been a stage race, I would have continued, but I stayed on the ground for two or three minutes and I was groggy, so it made no sense [to carry on]."
The 30-year-old was back in the group of favourites when crashed. "Suddenly, without knowing why, my wheel slipped. It must have been at about 60 km/h, at the end of a fast right-hand bend. I slid about 15 metres," Gilbert recalled.
"I'm injured on both elbows, both knees, my hip, my left buttocks, both shoulders... The important thing is there is nothing broken. It's better [to crash now] than in February or last week: my season is over anyway."
Still, there was a slight hint of regret as the Belgian would have liked to take better advantage of his great form and add a third victory at the Giro di Lombardia to his palmarès. "It was a shame, as I felt relly good and I'm sure I would have been with the best in the finale. Would I have won? Nobody can say that. Rodriguez is a great winner. He deserves it, he's the world number one, he's had a fantastic season."
Gilbert is now looking forward to some rest before the first BMC meeting for 2013 riders and staff in Belgium on October 20. On October 24 he will be at the Tour de France presentation in Paris. "I will ride for another week, at leisurely pace, because you heal better like that," he said. "Then, I'll go on a vacation with my wife and my son; five days in Provence, then somewhere else, we haven't decided yet."
The Belgian does not know his 2013 race programme yet but it will include the Classics. "The only thing for sure, is that the Ardennes Classics will be my biggest objective in the spring, wearing the rainbow jersey," he said.