After a race in which BMC had played an enormous role in chasing down dangerous breakaways, including Ryder Hesjedal’s lone charge towards the Cote de Saint Nicolas, Philippe Gilbert (BMC) failed to make as big an impact in Liege-Bastogne-Liege as he had done in the previous Ardennes Classics. In Amstel, he perhaps attacked too late and in Fleche Wallonne, a little too early. At Liege, barring a brief dig on the Redoute and again on the Saint-Nicolas, he was never really in the thick of the action.
“I was lacking a few percentage points in what was a really tough race,” Gilbert, finally seventh, said afterwards. “And it’s those few percentage points that always make the big difference.”
Up until Saint Nicolas, he said, “The race was a bit closed down, it wasn’t so obvious that we had to try something. But we had a great job with the team, there were a lot of us up there in the crucial moments on the Cote de Colonster. It was a good day for us in that sense. It was just I lacked that little bit extra.”
Egged on by thousands of Gilbert supporters on the Redoute, Gilbert said it was “great to be able to race in front of them wearing the rainbow jersey. A really nice feeling.” As for becoming the sixth World Champion to take Liege-Bastogne-Liege, though, whilst wearing the rainbow jersey, it was not to be.
“Other people were stronger than us and they had better legs,” added BMC team manager Jean Lelangue. “Phil was missing just that little bit and perhaps another support rider at the end.”
“As for the race, we’ve seen that the Colonster can be important, it does have a role to play in Liege.”
Belgium has now had its worst Classics season since 1945, with no major wins whatsoever. “We were good in 2011 and 2012 as a nation, but now we’re a little bit worse. We’ve been consistent in getting placings, but it’s never been quite good enough,” Lelangue reflected.
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Alasdair Fotheringham has been reporting on cycling since 1991. He has covered every Tour de France since 1992 as well as numerous other bike races of all shapes and sizes, ranging from the Olympic Games in 2008 to the now sadly defunct Subida a Urkiola hill climb in Spain. Apart from working for Cyclingnews.com, he is also the cycling correspondent for The Independent and The Independent on Sunday.
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