Gilbert returns to form for elusive Milan-San Remo success

Etoile de Besseges 2021 51st Edition 2nd stage Saint Genies La Calmette 154 km 04022021 Philippe Gilbert BEL Lotto Soudal photo Roberto BettiniBettiniPhoto2021
Philippe Gilbert (Lotto Soudal) at 2021 Etoile de Besseges (Image credit: Bettini Photo)

It’s no secret that Philippe Gilbert wants to win Milan-San Remo more than any other race on the calendar. With victories in the four other Monuments already to his credit, the 38-year-old Belgian would join an extremely elite club if he were to add La Primavera to his palmarès, an achievement that would set him alongside illustrious compatriots Eddy Merckx, Rik Van Looy and Roger De Vlaeminck, the only three riders to win all five.

The chances of Gilbert joining this legendary trio seemed very distant when he fractured his knee cap in a crash on the opening day of the Tour de France last August. He returned to racing within weeks, only to be forced out of early October’s BinckBank Tour as a result of nagging pain in his knee.

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Peter Cossins has written about professional cycling since 1993 and is a contributing editor to Procycling. He is the author of The Monuments: The Grit and the Glory of Cycling's Greatest One-Day Races (Bloomsbury, March 2014) and has translated Christophe Bassons' autobiography, A Clean Break (Bloomsbury, July 2014).