The 2013 season wasn’t very successful for former world champion Philippe Gilbert. With only one victory, stage 12 of the Vuelta a España, BMC’s sports manager Allan Peiper makes changes to the Belgian rider’s schedule for next year.
“Philippe has to skip races like Omloop Het Nieuwsblad and Kuurne-Brussels-Kuurne. And you can’t combine the Tour of Flanders with the Ardennes classics,” Peiper told Het Nieuwsblad. “Gilbert is an old school cyclist. He has never even had a trainer before but the cycling world is changing. You can’t do well in the entire spring campaign from Omloop to Liège-Bastogne-Liège.”
Gilbert started his 2013 season at the Tour Down Under and finished in Il Lombardia. His main objectives were the Ardennes classics and the world championships in Florence, but he fell short on each occasion.
“I discussed the past season with Philippe. He understands that we have to change things. We decided on a completely different programme for next year. No Tour Down Under but the Tour of Qatar and the Tour of Oman. He will do Tirreno-Adriatico instead of Paris-Nice to prepare for the first objective of the year: the revamped Milan-San Remo.”
“I have been on the podium of Milan-San Remo twice before [2008 and 2011],” Gilbert said at the BMC Racing Team presentation last week. “If we do that new climb [Pompeiana] fast enough, I don’t see any sprinter surviving it, apart from Sagan. I know I can win that race but the preparation this winter will be crucial.”
After Milan-San Remo, Gilbert will skip the Tour of Flanders. “We’ll do a specific training session in that period and then the Tour of Basque Country and Flèche Brabançonne so we can peak towards the Ardennes classics,” Peiper said.
In 2011, Gilbert won Flèche Brabançonne, Amstel Gold Race, Flèche Wallonne and Liège-Bastogne-Liège. In what was his most successful year to date, Gilbert also won the first stage of the Tour de France and the Clasica San Sebastian, among a host of other victories.
“We won’t do the Tour de France with Philippe next season. The world championships in Ponferrada are a main objective, followed by another big race,” Peiper concluded.
BMC won 30 races this year but team owner Andy Rihs was not content. “We did win 30 races but the majority of them were very late into the season. Cycling is just like football. If you are not performing straight away, you keep lagging behind.”
For next season, sports manager Allan Peiper aims for a more intensive coaching regime from within the team. Less racing and more specific training is the plan. The Australian wants a coaching structure where every rider gets follow-up from the team’s coaches, not from their individual coaches. It’s a system that very much resembles that of Team Sky.
Peiper started with BMC last November as performance director but was promoted to sports manager after John Lelangue left the team after the Tour de France, and the Australian says that he has five goals for 2014.
“Next season will be successful if we manage to win 40 races, including a classic, one Grand Tour and the world time trial championship. We also aim to be in the top three of the UCI team ranking again,” Peiper said.
BMC Racing Team has retained 22 of its current roster and adds six new riders for 2014: Ben Hermans from Radioshack-Leopard, Peter Stetina from Garmin-Sharp, Darwin Atapuma from Colombia, Peter Velits from Omega Pharma-Quick Step, Rick Zabel form the Rabobank Development Team and Silvain Dillier from BMC’s own development team.