Philippe Gilbert was one of the favourites heading into the UCI road world championships in Florence, but he was foiled by the pure climbers who took off on the final lap.
“It was really difficult,” he told Sporza . “The real climbers attacked in the last lap. Moreover, there were two Spaniards there.”
"We tried later to chase. The organization was not perfect, but we rode fast. Yet we could not come back.”
The Belgian finally sprinted to a painful ninth place, 34 seconds behind the new world champion, Rui Costa. “I could not stand on the pedals through the pain. I had to sprint while sitting.”
Gilbert had actually had his eye on the Italians during the race, who rode aggressively. “Bettini and Nibali like to attack. I often sat on the wheels of the Italians, that was the best choice on this dangerous course.....”
He praised his Belgian teammates, whom he “asked to drive tempo. That was my plan to survive. If the attacks began, I would react.”
Yet, the crashes and bad weather took their toll. Eventually, “everyone came to tell me they were kaputt and couldn't work any more. Everybody was good but like many other countries we had bad luck with crashes.”
Bomans happy Spaniards did not win
Belgian national coach Carlo Bomans praised the winner, saying, “I am glad that Rui Costa won and not a Spaniard. They did not do anything along the way.”
He said that he could not blame his riders for not doing more. “I've never seen anything like that before. It was very bad weather conditions. That must have been hell for the riders.”
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