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Gilbert at La Fleche Wallonne more in hope than expectation

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Philippe Gilbert (BMC)

Philippe Gilbert (BMC) (Image credit: Tim de Waele/TDWSport.com)
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Philippe Gilbert (BMC) struggled today

Philippe Gilbert (BMC) struggled today (Image credit: Tim de Waele/TDWSport.com)
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2011's Flèche Wallonne goes to a Walloon, Philippe Gilbert (Omega Pharma-Lotto).

2011's Flèche Wallonne goes to a Walloon, Philippe Gilbert (Omega Pharma-Lotto). (Image credit: Sirotti)
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 Philippe Gilbert of the BMC team celebrates as he crosses the finish line under heavy rain to win the 12th stage of the 98th Giro d'Italia.

Philippe Gilbert of the BMC team celebrates as he crosses the finish line under heavy rain to win the 12th stage of the 98th Giro d'Italia.
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Philippe Gilbert (BMC Racing)

Philippe Gilbert (BMC Racing) (Image credit: Tim de Waele)

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.