Philippe Gilbert led professional cycling with 18 wins in the 2011 season, but has yet to take one single victory in 2012. The Belgian, now with BMC Racing Team, knows why: the other teams aren't letting him ride like he did before. He hopes to remedy his lack of wins with a stage win in the Vuelta a Espana.
“Not winning is more the fault of the other teams than of myself,” he told Het Nieuwsblad. “They no longer let me ride like I did last year.”
In 2011, Gilbert was with Omega Pharma-Lotto and dominated the entire season. He brought in wins from the Volta ao Algarve in mid-February and carried on right through until the GP de Wallonie in mid-September. He won the first stage of the Tour de France and thus was the first to wear the leader's yellow jersey. Perhaps the Belgian's most impressive achievement came in the second half of April, when he won the Brabantse Pijl, Amstel Gold Race, Fleche Wallonne and Liege-Bastogne-Liege within an 11-day period.
He changed teams and went into 2012 with high goals with BMC: winning the one-day Classics and helping Cadel Evans repeat his Tour de France win, hoping to take a stage for himself along the way.
None of it happened. His highest finish in the spring was third in Fleche Wallonne, and he didn't manage to finish above fourth in any Tour stages. Nor did Evans win the title. Gilbert was even unable to defend his national titles in the road race and time trial.
His lack of wins this year doesn't bother him, he said. “That doesn't give me any stress. The team has kept its confidence in me. They don't forget that I worked for Evans in the Tour. In Spain I will try to wipe away that zero, but my main concern is to be in good shape for the World Championships and the Tour of Lombardy.”