Gilbert and Van Avermaet to the fore in the Tour of Oman
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Wednesday, February 13, 2013

Gilbert and Van Avermaet to the fore in the Tour of Oman

by VeloNation Press at 7:48 PM EST   comments
Categories: Pro Cycling, Tour of Oman
BMC Racing Team duo in good shape on stage three

Philippe GilbertWorld road race champion Philippe Gilbert and his BMC Racing team-mate Greg Van Avermaet were both satisfied after strong showings on stage three of the Tour of Oman.

Van Avermaet was best placed of the duo, netting a fine second on the uphill slope to the line at the Wadi Dayqah Dam. He finished one second behind the day’s winner Peter Sagan (Cannondale Pro Cycling) and just ahead of Tony Gallopin (RadioShack-Leopard), Alberto Contador (Team Saxo-Tinkoff) and Marco Marcato (Vacansoleil-DCM).

Gilbert was five seconds and three places further behind his compatriot, but was also encouraged by how things went for him at this point of the season.

That said, though, neither felt as well as they had expected. “Philippe and I both knew that we could ride this final, but I didn't felt very good and neither did he. We wanted to try and see where we could finish,” said Van Avermaet, who picked up his best results since netting second in the GP de Wallonie last September.

“We were in good position on the beginning of the climb, in the wheel of Sagan and Gallopin. But when Sagan attacked I couldn't follow him.”

He sits third overall in the general classification, some 26 seconds off Sagan’s red leader’s jersey. Thursday’s stage to Green Mountain will be crucial for his overall aspirations and while there is a clutch of stronger climbers behind him, he has a slight buffer on them and will fight all the way.

As for Gilbert, the world champion is primarily aiming to build form for the Classics and is consequently satisfied with where he is at.

“We had a short final, there was only 25 or 30 kilometres with a race. It was very nervous. We did a good race as a team because we were always in the front in the final, especially in the last five kilometres, There were a lot of BMC together. We were in a good position, Greg and me, at the bottom of the last climb,” he said.

“Afterwards it was just broken [up] and Greg was in a better position than me. He followed Sagan and I was just behind. There was a small gap, I was just in the second group. I was also in the top ten. We didn't win but we did something good with the team.”

Gilbert’s first big focus is to try to win Milan-Sanremo, then to go on to have a successful Ardennes Classics campaign. He’s still got more time before he must reach peak form and sounds happy with things at this point in time. “I thought it was good because it was about five hours and twenty minutes of racing,” he said. “Even if it's not with high level, it was still five hours on the bike and that's most important.”

Tomorrow’s climb is longer than what has come thus far in the race and is expected to shake things up. Neither Van Avermaet nor Gilbert are as proficient on long climbs as riders such as Alberto Contador (Team Saxo Tinkoff), Vincenzo Nibali (Astana), last year’s race winner Peter Velits (Omega Pharma Quick Step) or Chris Froome (Sky) but they will likely ride aggressively anyway and try to once again perform strongly.


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