Belgian Philippe Gilbert took his fourth consecutive win today in Como, Italy, thanks to the work of World Champion Cadel Evans and the rest of his Silence-Lotto team.
Since finishing sixth behind Evans at the World Championships, Gilbert has raced and won Coppa Sabatini, Paris-Tours, Giro del Piemonte and today, Giro di Lombardia.
"Matthew Lloyd set a good rhythm for me on the Civiglio climb, and it was easy to stay behind him. I attacked first, then Evans. He allowed me to mark Damiano Cunego," Gilbert said after his win.
Silence-Lotto started with few wins this season, but it has ended on a high with Evans' win at Worlds and Gilbert's streak. Gilbert took his first win in Italy, a stage at the Giro d'Italia in May, and then a stage and overall of the Ster Elektrotoer in June. Since finishing sixth in the Worlds on September 27, he has been unstoppable.
Gilbert said he is on top form and some of his rivals are weakening towards the end of the season. "I am also very thin these days, which helps. Then, I have a strong team and they worked hard today, including Evans."
Silence-Lotto worked with Lampre in the early part of Lombardia to catch the escape of four riders: Sergey Klimov (Katusha), Reinier Honig (Vacansoleil), Marco Velo (Quick Step) and Nicolas Roche (AG2R La Mondiale). Evans and Gilbert positioned themselves well over Ghisallo, preceding the Civiglio and San Fermo climbs in the final 20 kilometres.
Gilbert's attack at the top of Civiglio brought out Spaniard Samuel Sánchez (Euskaltel-Euskadi). The chasers caught them, but Gilbert started another attack on San Fermo. Sánchez joined him and the duo had 11 seconds at the top, 5.7 kilometres to race. They worked together to arrive with 15 seconds for the final kilometre along Como's lakeside.
"I was confident," said Gilbert. "Before the last kilometre I felt we had enough time and it is always easy to do a sprint with two instead of eight or ten."
Gilbert narrowly beat Olympic Champion Sánchez and had seven seconds on Alexandr Kolobnev (Saxo Bank) in third. Having won Paris-Tours the previous Sunday, Gilbert won his second Classic and first Monument within the span of one week. His next goal: rest and prepare for his home race, another Monument, Liège-Bastogne-Liège.
"Certainly there will be more pressure from the media and fans, but it is not a problem because I know the quality of my work and it will bring wins."
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