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Silence-Lotto confirms Gilbert signing

Philippe Gilbert meets Silence-Lotto team manager Marc Sergeant

Philippe Gilbert meets Silence-Lotto team manager Marc Sergeant (Image credit: AFP)

Belgian squad Silence-Lotto confirmed the transfer of Philippe Gilbert to its ranks for the 2009 season at a press conference Thursday. Gilbert met with team manager Marc Sergeant and signed an "agreement of intent," although he cannot officially be declared a Silence-Lotto rider until next year.

The Belgian rider had been courting offers from various ProTour teams, but told Sporza, "I did not choose the highest offer. Six ProTour teams wanted me. I studied thoroughly all of the offers.

"On Tuesday evening, there was 90 percent chance that I would sign for Silence-Lotto and a 10 percent chance that I remained at Française des Jeux. I had to make a decision which I explained to [Française des Jeux manager] Marc Madiot in a difficult moment. Until December 31, I am 100 percent for FdJ and Madiot."

Added Sergeant, "We definitely wanted him. He is one of the best riders in the world, a Belgian and great for publicity. He was always in our sights."

Gilbert is likely to focus on Milano-Sanremo and Liège-Bastogne-Liège next season. He will then ride the Giro d'Italia and is likely to skip the 2009 Tour de France.