World champion Philippe Gilbert will captain the BMC Racing Team for Wednesday's Brabantse Pijl, the final tune-up event for the 30-year-old Belgian before the Ardennes Classics commence on Sunday with the Amstel Gold Race.
Twice a podium finisher at the Tour of Flanders, Gilbert skipped his home country's cobbled Monument this year in order to compete at the Vuelta Ciclista al Pais Vasco, which the Belgian believed would be better preparation for the upcoming Ardennes events which are the primary target of his spring campaign.
"The first stages were very hard," Gilbert said of Pais Vasco, in which he abandoned during the fifth of six stages. "But I was always there and trying just to follow. I made some good efforts."
Gilbert has one Brabantse Pijl victory in his palmares, the 2011 edition, and has finished on the podium in 2008, where he placed second to Sylvain Chavanel.
"I like Brabantse Pijl because it's technical and I can do a lot of efforts," Gilbert said. "I can go deep in this race and still recover in time for Amstel on Sunday."
Gilbert has found much success in the Ardennes Classics in recent years, most notably with his hat trick of victories in 2011 at the Amstel Gold Race, La Flèche Wallonne and Liège–Bastogne–Liège. Gilbert has also won the 2010 Amstel Gold Race plus finished third in both the 2012 La Flèche Wallonne and 2010 Liège–Bastogne–Liège.
BMC Racing Team roster for Brabantse Pijl:
Adam Blythe (GBr), Yannick Eijssen (Bel), Philippe Gilbert (Bel), Martin Kohler (Swi), Klaas Lodewyck (Bel), Greg Van Avermaet (Bel), Danilo Wyss (Swi)
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