Gilbert feeling ‘really confident’ heading into Santos Tour Down Under
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Sunday, January 20, 2013

Gilbert feeling ‘really confident’ heading into Santos Tour Down Under

by Shane Stokes at 4:29 PM EST   comments
Categories: Pro Cycling
World champion feeling good in People’s Choice Classic

Philippe GilbertIt’s as yet unclear as to what his goals are in the race but world road race champion Philippe Gilbert sounds very upbeat as he prepares for the start of the first WorldTour event of the season, the Santos Tour Down Under.

The BMC Racing Team rider competed in the People’s Choice Classic in Adelaide today, although he didn’t dispute the sprint at the end of the race and rolled in 69th.

“It is nice to be back in competition, even if it is not official. It is nice to spin the legs with a high speed,” Gilbert said after the race.

He is hoping for a far better early part of the season to last year, when he was off-form in the first races and the Classics. The Belgian feels that he has had a much better winter than last year, and is encouraged by his sensations today.

“The feeling was good. That's the most important news of the day. I think the legs are good and I'm really confident,” he said.

Gilbert first rode the Santos Tour Down Under back in 2004, where he took the third stage, finished fourth overall and landed the young riders’ jersey. He then rode the race again in 2008 - in his last year with FDJ - where he won the overall mountains classification.

He’s been thinking about his return to the event for a long time. “I saw the parcours on the Internet and it looks good for me,” he said back in November. “So I will go there with some ambition and we also bring a great team.”

Gilbert won just three races last year, namely two stages of the Vuelta a España plus the world title. While the early part of the season was very frustrating for him, finishing so strongly has given him considerable motivation to perform early and well in the rainbow jersey.

Directeur sportif Fabio Baldato says the team is ready to support him. “They did a good job of training during the week and they're ready for the race. Phil is motivated and we'll surround him and hope for a good result."

Gilbert’s chances of a high overall classification result in the Santos Tour Down Under are boosted by the summit finish of Old Willunga Hill, which comes next Saturday on stage five. He is one of the strongest finishers in cycling on short, sharp climbs and will likely fancy his chances there.

Gilbert spoke to the press at the recent 2013 launch of the BMC Racing Team in Belgium. He talked about the difficulties of last year, his preparations for this season, his goals, Lance Armstrong and more. That interview can be heard below.


Philippe Gilbert at BMC Racing Team launch Jan 2013 by Velonationprocycling on Mixcloud




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