Gilbert unsure on Tour de France participation

Although he credited riding the 2012 Tour de France for the late-season form that carried him to the rainbow jersey, world champion Philippe Gilbert (BMC) is unsure if he will return to the French Grand Tour next season.

Speaking at the presentation of the 2013 Tour route in Paris on Wednesday, the Belgian lauded what he described as a “complete” course, but said that it was too soon to say if he would be on the start line in Corsica on June 29 next.

“It will be a nice Tour de France, but it’s hard to say when there are still more than eight months to the start,” Gilbert said, according to La Dernière Heure. “I’m still not decided on my participation. BMC will have both Cadel Evans and Tejay van Garderen for the general classification, which is the priority for us.”

After leaving La Française des Jeux for Silence-Lotto at the end of 2008, Gilbert avoided the Tour for two years before returning in resounding fashion in 2011, winning the opening stage at Mont des Alouettes. The 2013 Tour once again begins with a road stage, albeit one that appears more suited to the sprinters than the puncheurs.

“It’s a very complete course with a lot of opportunities for the sprinters early on,” Gilbert said. “After that there’s the team time trial, you’ve got an easy time trial and a hard one, there are summit finishes, technical stages. It’s going to take a very complete rider to win this Tour.

“I think there are two key stages – the double ascent of l’Alpe d’Huez and the Mont Ventoux stage, especially as it’s 242km long. They are the two queen stages, and I’m sure the organisers want those to be the key days of the 2013 Tour.”



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