Philippe Gilbert (BMC) failed in his second attempt this year to retain a national jersey, this time at the Belgian Time Trial Championships on Wednesday. In June he also failed to defend his title of Belgian road champion.
Kristof Vandewalle (Omega Pharma - Quick-Step) took out the title with Ben Hermans (Radioshack-Nissan) second and Gilbert third. It's now almost a year since Gilbert has won a race, with the GP de Wallonie the last of 18 victories during a phenomenal 2011 season.
"I have not yet made an impact on this season and I miss the victory," Gilbert told dhnet.be. "I was also coming to the Belgian Championship to win, I had made the trip to keep my title. But for the second time this year, I lose my tricolor jersey ... I'm a little disappointed.
"Vandewalle has made a good time. He went very quickly and held to the end ".
Gilbert will now move on to the Vuelta a España which begins Saturday in Pamplona. With Wednesday's podium the Walloon is confident that his form is building leading up to the world championships and also Il Lombardia.
The 30-year-old also had the opportunity to speak with the president of the Royale Ligue Velocipedique Belge, Tom Van Damme, who was quoted as saying that Gilbert had been a "selfish" rider in several races and failed to give proper support to his Belgian teammates during the Olympic Games and also the world championships last season.
"My remarks were misinterpreted," said Van Damme on Wednesday.
"I'm not offended because I know the media loves scandals and it can go away quickly," said Gilbert. "I am aware that the results of Belgian cycling were not exceptional and maybe Tom has had the pressure of COIB but as everyone knows I'm a man of dialogue, I would have preferred to talk about it together."
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