In the early months of 2013, Tom Boonen’s injured elbow became such a point of discussion in Flanders that it even spawned its own Twitter account. Passions among the cycling faithful in Wallonia are a little more understated, perhaps, but the state of Philippe Gilbert’s fractured finger has generated its share of column inches in the build-up to the region’s marquee races, La Flèche Wallonne and Liège-Bastogne-Liège.
Gilbert was injured following an altercation with a motorist during a training ride a little under two weeks ago, and he duly struggled at Amstel Gold Race on Sunday, in what was his first competitive outing since the incident. Dropped long before the race’s denouement, Gilbert came home in 81st place and after the race, his BMC directeur sportif Valerio Piva warned reporters not to expect miracles. Two days on, the prognosis is scarcely better.