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Gilbert: Racing will be different but beautiful

Volta ao Algarve 2020 - 66th Edition - 1st stage Portimao - Lagos 195,6 km - 19/02/2020 - Philippe Gilbert (BEL - Lotto Soudal) - photo Nico Vereecken/PN/BettiniPhoto©2020
Philippe Gilbert at the Volta ao Algarve (Image credit: Bettini Photo)

Under normal circumstances this weekend would have seen Gent-Wevelgem take place, but as professional cycling takes a back seat due to the Covid-19 coronavirus pandemic, riders and teams must remain patient.

"It's not easy, but I think that the Classics will happen, just later in the year and in a different way," Philippe Gilbert told Cyclingnews.

Gilbert came into the season with a new team – Lotto Soudal - looking to complete his set of Monument wins with victory in Milan-San Remo. However, the Belgian and his new teammates were forced to take pay cuts last week as teams face the financial fallout from the pandemic.

Cyclingnews spoke to Gilbert just before the paycut was officially revealed but the Belgian admitted that he and riders were already suffering due to the lack of racing.

"For riders it's hard because we obviously had all that momentum and we'd worked so hard. I was physically ready and after Paris-Nice I did my best training. I was ready for a great Milan-San Remo and the other races."

With the Classics shelved until at least the second half of the year and confusion over the Tour de France's plans to take place in July, Gilbert is holding out hope for competitive second half of the season.

"It's going to be different but beautiful. It's hard to say when we can race again. Of course I hope it's as soon as possible. The world is crazy at the moment and it's hard to predict anything," he said.

"It could be really intense when we start again, and that's going to hard for the riders with little rest in between. We could have Monuments every weekend but honestly I'm used to that having raced from Harelbeke to Liège in the last few years. When racing starts again hopefully we can return to normal."