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Gilbert: Conceding defeat at Eneco gave me the strength to win

Philippe Gilbert (Omega Pharma-Lotto) continued his almost faultless season on Monday, taking out the Belgian national time trial title in Tervuren. Gilbert’s time of 46:51 was 10 seconds faster than next best Ben Hermans (RadioShack) and impressively outshone specialists such as Dominique Cornu (Topsport Vlaanderen - Mercator) and Thomas de Gendt (Vacansoleil-DCM).

The Walloon credited the win to riding within himself on the final stage of the Eneco Tour, in which he finished second overall to Edvald Boasson Hagen (Sky).

"It was very hard to reverse the situation facing Boasson Hagen, who fully deserved his victory," Gilbert said on L’Avenir.net. "I felt I was not going to win the race and in the end, I come out with a stage victory and second place that in itself which is hardly disappointing!"

"[I think] the choice to save my strength on the final day Eneco was clearly a good choice for the Belgian championship."

Gilbert has never been a noted time trialist but has improved significantly against the clock in 2011. He finished 2nd in the opening time trial of the Tour of Belgium, and took 8th and 25th respectively in the prologue and time trial at Eneco. The difference on Monday however may well have been getting to the course a day in advance for reconnaissance.

"I had taken care to get there Sunday night, which enabled me to scout out the route three times in the morning and find the problem-corners. I knew if I rode the first half of the course well I could gain time in the latter half - and it worked out perfectly."

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