Gilbert’s early-season programme detailed, Qatar is first race
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Saturday, December 10, 2011

Gilbert’s early-season programme detailed, Qatar is first race

by VeloNation Press at 10:25 AM EST   comments
Categories: Pro Cycling
 
Belgian targeting big season with BMC Racing Team

Philippe GilbertWorld number one Philippe Gilbert will begin his first season with the BMC Racing Team at the Tour of Qatar on February 5th, the Belgian thus choosing a different start to his year than he did in 2011.

Having made his season debut last February 6th in the Trofeo Palma de Mallorca, riding several days on the Spanish island before going on to the Volta ao Algarve and the first of many victories, he has opted for an alternative preparation.

Directeur sportif John Lelangue has outlined his programme to Het Laaste Nieuws, saying that the rider will compete in Qatar, then head to France for the Tour Haut Var (February 18-19). After that his programme will become more similar to 2011, with Gilbert competing in the Omloop Het Nieuwsblad (February 26) and the following day’s Kuurne_Brussels-Kuurne.

Next up will be the defence of his title in the Strade Bianche (March 3) plus a return to Tirreno-Adriatico (March 7 to 13) prior to Milan-San Remo on March 17th.

The latter is his first big season goal. He wants to improve on his third place of last year, then go on to tackle the other Spring Classics.

Gilbert had a stunning season in 2011, clocking up eighteen wins in over twelve thousand kilometres of racing. He dominated the Ardennes Classics with the extremely rare treble of Amstel Gold, Flèche Wallonne and Liège-Bastogne-Liège, also taking Brabantse Pijl in the same period.

Other successes which came his way included a stage and stint in the Maillot Jaune in the Tour de France, the Belgian road and time trial championships, overall victory in the Tour of Belgium and the Ster ZLM Toer, and single day victories in the Clasica San Sebastian and Grand Prix Cycliste de Quebec.

His rivals will doubtlessly be concerned by his pronouncement last month that he believes he’ll be at a higher level this coming season. “I'm 29, I will still progress physically for another year or two and will be without doubt a little stronger in 2012, and possibly also in 2013,” he told La Dernière Heure.

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