An injury sustained in a crash at the Eneco Tour briefly cast doubts over his Vuelta a España participation but Philippe Gilbert (BMC) has declared himself pleased with his recovery following the stage one time trial in Galicia on Saturday evening.
The world champion still has stitches in his left knee following the crash, but he was able to play a full part in BMC’s 8th-place finish in Saturday’s Vuelta opener. Gilbert explained afterwards that he had not suffered any pain from his injury during the 27.4 kilometre test.
“It’s practically healed, there’s only another little centimetre that needs to seal up,” Gilbert told RTBF afterwards. “I felt very good today.”
Gilbert said that his restricted training in the week leading into the Vuelta had left him with plenty in reserve for Saturday evening’s time trial but he acknowledged that Sunday’s first road stage, which brings the peloton to the summit of Alto de Monte da Groba, would provide a far sterner test.
“It’s always better not to ride too much before a time trial, which is what athletes who do short-distance sports do, and that’s what I had to do because of the injury. So in the end, it was good preparation,” Gilbert said. “Sunday is another thing. It’s a four or five hour stage, and so training is more important.”
Gilbert is riding the Vuelta in preparation for his defence of his world title in Florence next month. Although the Belgian is still without a win in the rainbow jersey, he can take heart from last season, when he claimed his first and second victories of the season at the Vuelta, before adding a third at the Worlds in Valkenburg.
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