After competing against Patrick Lefevere's QuickStep Floors team for most of his career, Philippe Gilbert is hoping that 2017's union will reignite his Classics career and help bag his first Monument since 2014.
"It's a great honour to be part of the team. It was easy to get into the group because I know most of the riders and the staff. I already feel part of the team so I'm looking forward to wearing the jersey and riding the bike officially," Gilbert said in a video message posted by his new team.
Gilbert has enjoyed a long and distinguished career with time at FDJ, Lotto and BMC. The 34-year-old signed a one-year deal with Lefevere for 2017, in a move that will see the former world champion link up with fellow veteran, Tom Boonen. Both riders are heading towards the end of their careers – Boonen will retire this spring – but Gilbert believes that the partnership will work.
"Riding with Tom is something special. I've done some Worlds with him and I was there when he was champion and he was there when I was champion. We already have something in common. He's what he's like on TV. He's never fake and always happy. He's an optimist and works hard. I'm convinced that it's a good combination."
Gilbert's full race programme is still taking shape but he will hope to play a major factor in Lefevere's Classics plans. It has been almost three years since Gilbert won a Monument but the former Liege-Bastogne-Liege winner is hoping to roll back the clock and find his best form once more.
"My goal is always to win a big classic," he added. "I've done that several years. Last year I wasn't able because I broke my finger at a bad moment and I lost my chance. My last big win was Amstel in 2014 and in 2015 and 2016 I didn't win a big Monument. Now it's time to win again.
"I was always competing against Quick-Step," he said when looking back at his time on other teams.
"It was always a fight but in a good way. I liked racing against them because of the quality of riders but also because they were aggressive. The aim is always to win but they won with a certain style and that's what I liked. I hope that will be the case again in 2017."
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