Harder finish could give Belgian victory chances
The Tour de France has changed the finish of the first stage of the 2012 Tour in Liege, making it harder in an apparent attempt to attract Philippe Gilbert to the race. The Belgian had previously criticised the course, saying it would lead to a mass sprint and nothing for him.
In consultation with representatives from the Province of Liege, the Amaury Sport Organisation has now changed the course, according to Belgian media sources. The stage would now finish at the Avenue du Centenaire instead of at the Val-Saint-Lambert crystal factory.
In May, Gilbert, now with Omega Pharma-Lotto, said that he was "very disappointed with the parcours" and that he might not even ride the Tour.
Now, he has told RTBF that if the change is confirmed, it would be great news and a motivation for him. He would expect to lose time in the prologue, but thought that he could make it up on a more difficult first stage and take the yellow jersey in his homeland.
Gilbert has been the dominant rider this season, winning amongst others, La Fleche Wallonne, Amstel Gold Race, Liege-Bastogne-Liege, the first stage of the Tour de France, and both national titles. He will ride for BMC Racing Team as of 2012.
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