Gilbert feeling effects of long and successful season

Winner Philippe Gilbert (Omega Pharma-Lotto) on the podium.

Winner Philippe Gilbert (Omega Pharma-Lotto) on the podium. (Image credit: Isabelle Duchesne)

The long season is finally catching up with Philippe Gilbert.  At the Giro del Piemonte, he noticed that many other riders are fresher than he is now. The Omega Pharma-Lotto rider even abandoned the race, which is the first time all season that he has done that.

A large group got away early in the race and achieved a substantial advantage. "It was a lost cause. We were immediately seven minutes down.  It was ridiculous to continue to race,” he told Het Nieuwsblad.

Gilbert decided to save his legs for Saturday's Giro di Lombardia which he hopes to win for the third consecutive year.  But the Belgian knows it won't be easy.

His participation in the Tour de France “is taking revenge.  I have mostly done one-day races since then and I start to notice that.  I also see a difference in the guys who came from the Vuelta.  Nibali, Van Avermaet, Moreno - they all have extra freshness in their legs.

"Still, everyone is tired after a long season,” he added.  “I think I have a chance and I will set myself to it. Friday I will explore the new course, and then we'll see. "

Gilbert, 29, currently leads the World ranking and can boast a total of 18 victories this season.  His first was the first stage of the Volt ao Algarve in mid-February, and his most recent was the GP de Wallonie in mid-September.

In between, his wins run the gamut from the “Ardennes triple” of Amstel Gold Race, Flèche Wallonne and Liège-Bastogne-Liège to the first stage of the Tour de France. Gilbert wil ride for BMC Racing Team in 2012.

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