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Gilbert out of Liege-Bastogne-Liege

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Philippe Gilbert (BMC) was a fan favourite at the team bus

Philippe Gilbert (BMC) was a fan favourite at the team bus
(Image credit: Tim de Waele/TDWSport.com)
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Philippe Gilbert (BMC) struggled today

Philippe Gilbert (BMC) struggled today
(Image credit: Tim de Waele/TDWSport.com)
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Alejandro Valverde, Philippe Gilbert and Ilnur Zakarin on the podium in Murcia

Alejandro Valverde, Philippe Gilbert and Ilnur Zakarin on the podium in Murcia
(Image credit: Bettini Photo)
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Philippe Gilbert at the start.

Philippe Gilbert at the start.
(Image credit: Tim de Waele/TDWSport.com)

Philippe Gilbert will not take the start of Liège-Bastogne-Liège on Sunday after suffering through the Amstel Gold Race and La Flèche Wallonne without factoring in the race. The 2011 winner of the race underwent surgery last week for multiple fractures to his middle finger suffered in an altercation with two men while out training. Gilbert will be replaced by American Joey Rosskopf.

"The pain from my fractured finger and the side effects this creates, including changing my position and being twisted on the bike, means it's not comfortable to ride, let alone race at this intensity," Gilbert said.

"After giving it a go in Amstel Gold Race and La Flèche Wallonne, I have to be realistic and focus on my recovery and getting back in shape for the Giro d'Italia. I can't race to the best of my ability or even help the team, so I'll head home to Monaco and recover well in the good weather and be back on my usual training schedule as soon as possible."

The start of the Giro d'Italia is just over two weeks away.

Gilbert's injury came after a confrontation between a driver and his brother on the roads from Spa to Theux that escalated once Gilbert and teammate Loic Vliegen entered the city centre.

The BMC team press release stated the men were intoxicated, while the two denied this to the Belgian press, and accused Gilbert of using an illegal pepper spray on them, which could result in legal action being taken against him.

Gilbert's absence in Liège leaves only three former champions on the start line - Dan Martin, Alejandro Valverde and Simon Gerrans.