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Peiper plays down talk of Ardennes treble

By:
Daniel Benson
Published:
April 22, 2014, 21:40 BST,
Updated:
April 23, 2014, 2:20 BST
Edition:
First Edition Cycling News, Wednesday, April 23, 2014
Race:
La Flèche Wallonne
Philippe Gilbert (BMC) makes his winning attack over the Cauberg at the 2014 Amstel Gold Race

Philippe Gilbert (BMC) makes his winning attack over the Cauberg at the 2014 Amstel Gold Race

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Gilbert has chance to repeat 2011 feat

Allan Peiper, the performance manager of BMC Racing, has dismissed talk over Philippe Gilbert wining the Ardennes treble. Gilbert famously won Amstel Gold, Fleche Wallonne and Liege-Bastogne-Liege in a unmatchable period of racing in 2011.

Last week he won De Brabantse Pijl - La Flèche Brabançonne - his first victory of the season - before completing an almost faultless BMC performance at Amstel last Sunday.

He starts Wednesday's Fleche-Wallone as a leading contender for the win although the likes of Joaquim Rodriguez, Daniel Moreno and Alejandro Valverde will all be out for revenge after suffering defeat at Amstel.

"I don't think we're involved in that triple talk," Peiper told Cyclingnews from BMC's base just outside Liege.

"We won Brabançonne and that was good because it confirmed that he was going well and Amstel somewhat took the pressure is off because we've got the Classic win that we set out to get."

Amstel marked BMC first Spring Classic win - although they tasted victory in the 2010 edition of Fleche courtesy of Cadel Evans.

"That win is the bag but Phil still very much wants to win the next two races," Peiper said.

"If they fall into our hands then that's fantastic but the talk of the triple isn't something that we can focus on."

Rodriguez and Moreno who have won the last two editions of the race come into the race as major threats, although Rodriguez will be racing just days after he crashed out of Amstel. He stated yesterday that he would ride for his teammate Moreno, who won last year.

"Katusha has a strong team for this race and it's more of a Spanish climber's climb but Phil is in fantastic shape. I wouldn't say he's the outstanding favourite but he's certainly a favourite. Katusha and Movistar really believe in their leaders and their chances, and rightly so."

The route of this year's Fleche Wallonne has undergone a number of modifications with the start shifted to Bastogne and the penultimate climb of the Mur de Huy coming closer to the finish.

"It's a different race and the final has changed with two climbs of the Mur in the final 23 kilometres. It's going to really shake up the race. There will be less chance of controlling the race like we'd like and there are a lot of favourites who can win."

BMC will no doubt be buoyed by their ride in Amstel. Greg Van Avermaet moved into a late move and Samuel Sanchez drew out Gilbert's opposition before the Belgian made his race winning move. According to Peiper, Sanchez has been instrumental since his late move to the team this year. He signed for the team after Alessandro Ballan was fired due to a doping suspension.

"The great thing in our favour is that we have Sanchez onboard. He's turned us from a great team into a super team. If you have a leader like Phil and then a back-up like Samuel, it can be almost perfect."

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