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Ochowicz praises Gilbert for stunning worlds success

For the second time in four years - the first was with Cadel Evans in 2009 - a BMC rider is world champion, something which for Jim Ochowicz, present at Valkenburg, is a source of considerable pride.

"Throughout the Tour he [Philippe Gilbert] was doing his job and staying healthy and then we saw with the Vuelta he was making those moves on the little climbs at the end of the stages, which was a great sign," the veteran team manager said.

"It was just like what he did here, a second category climb, you make the effort and you hold it.

"At Barcelona in the Vuelta" - when Gilbert attacked with race leader Joaquim Rodriguez on the steep uphill climb at Montjuic and claimed his first win of the season - "that was a good first moment. You have to get confidence, in cycling the head and the body work together.

"That doesn't mean you win all the time but you have to at least be in the competition. And when you start to win races like you do at the Vuelta you have confidence that you can win."

Just as at the finish in La Lastrilla, where Gilbert won on a very draggy finish, it was very similar - "It needed a lot of power, a lot of watts," Ochowicz said.

He had believed, he said, pre-race that Gilbert could be up there for the win, but he was cautious, too.

"There's a lot of good riders out there, circumstances can change, a year out we don't know what the weather's going to be like, there's no guarantees.

"But when he got to the starting line he had confidence and we had confidence. He was hungry, too, for the win, and you'll see the same with [former world champions and BMC riders] Thor [Hushovd] and Cadel [Evans] when they've had a season that they're not excited about, but they understand why, and they're going to have some good off-season racing and they're going to come in hungry."

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Alasdair Fotheringham
Alasdair Fotheringham

Alasdair Fotheringham has been reporting on cycling since 1991. He has covered every Tour de France since 1992 bar one, as well as numerous other bike races of all shapes and sizes, ranging from the Olympic Games in 2008 to the now sadly defunct Subida a Urkiola hill climb in Spain. As well as working for Cyclingnews, he has also written for The IndependentThe GuardianProCycling, The Express and Reuters.