Philippe Gilbert's chances of starting in this year's Tour de France are 50-50, according to Omega Pharma-Lotto team manager Marc Sergeant. He said a final decision on whether Gilbert will race will be made by the rider himself.
"I estimate the probability at 50 per cent," said Sergeant in the Belgian newspaper Het Laatste Nieuws. With three stages of the Tour running through Belgium this year, “Publicity-wise, a Tour start is nothing to sneeze at.”
However, Sergeant is leaving the decision up to Gilbert. "His name is at least in the initial selection of 15 riders which we announced a while ago," he said. "He must decide if he wants the Tour in his programme.”
“Last year he proved himself to be of enormous commercial value,” Sergeant said. In October, Gilbert won the Coppa Sabatini, Paris-Tours, Giro del Piemonte and Giro di Lombardia over a period of 10 days.
This season he has been equally successful, capping off a successful Spring Classics season with the victory in Amstel Gold Race and the lead in the International Cycling Union's world rankings.
“But the ball is in his court. Whether yes or no, there is something to be said either way,” Sergeant continued. “After his good early season, we want to give him a little rest in May. He will be back at the Tour of Belgium. We don't want to rush him into a decision.”