Gilbert takes on Meersman in Gent Six Day pursuit match
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Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Gilbert takes on Meersman in Gent Six Day pursuit match

by Shane Stokes at 7:32 AM EST   comments
Categories: Pro Cycling, Track
 
Road stars spice up tonight’s racing action

Philippe GilbertHe’s unfamiliar with racing on the boards but for the second year running, Philippe Gilbert will swop the road for track tonight and be one of the star attractions on the opening day of the Gent Six Day in Belgium.

Twelve months ago he took to the boards in a pursuit match against fellow Belgian Jurgen Roelandts, getting the edge over his then-Omega Pharma Lotto team-mate. Gilbert was coming off a superb season, having clocked up eighteen wins including the Ardennes Classic treble of Amstel Gold, Flèche Wallonne and Liège-Bastogne-Liège, the Clásica de San Sebastián, a stage in the Tour de France, the overall classification in the Ster ZLM Toer and the Tour of Belgium plus the overall UCI WorldTour ranking.

His presence helped make up for the absence of Belgian track favourite Iljo Keisse, who was finishing out a competitive ban.

This time round Gilbert comes back after a much quieter season, but one which ended with the notable peak of two stage wins in the Vuelta a España plus the world road race championship title. Gilbert has spent the morning training on the track and tonight will go to head with the promising young Belgian, Gianni Meersman.

The latter has been in the headlines recently due to his decision to make use of a UCI clause to leave the Lotto-Belisol team and to instead move to rival setup, Omega Pharma Quick Step.

The duo previously raced together on the FDJ team and will compete tonight in their pursuit match in front of a packed velodrome.

Gilbert’s credentials are well known but Meersman, who is four years younger than him, is putting together some good results of his own. He won stages in Paris-Nice and the Volta ao Algarve earlier this season, and also took third in the Clasica de San Sebastián.

His new team boss Patrick Lefevere said yesterday that he felt the rider could have a very good year ahead. “I'm expecting him to have a season as a major player in some Ardennes classics like the Brabantse Pijl or the Amstel Gold Race, as well as in some stages of important stage races or one day events.”

Gilbert is clearly much better known at present but if Meersman continues to develop at a good rate, he could eventually become the BMC Racing Team rider’s successor.

The cycling-mad Belgian public will have a chance to see both square up tonight, something which will ensure an electric atmosphere.

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