Gilbert explains withdrawal from Vuelta al Pais Vasco
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Saturday, April 6, 2013

Gilbert explains withdrawal from Vuelta al Pais Vasco

by VeloNation Press at 7:00 PM EST   comments
Categories: Pro Cycling, Spring Classics, Liège-Bastogne-Liège , Amstel Gold Race, Flèche Wallonne, Vuelta al Pais Vasco
World champion playing things safe for Ardennes Classics, but not sure if he is on target

Philippe GilbertPhilippe Gilbert has said that playing things safe in advance of the Ardennes Classics is the reason that he opted not to finish the Vuelta al Pais Vasco, with the Belgian rider dropping out of the penultimate stage yesterday.

Run off in very difficult weather conditions, a large percentage of the peloton also opted not to finish. Gilbert had previously decided not to ride the Ronde van Vlaanderen as he was still getting over a cold sustained in Paris-Nice, and wanted to avoid risking becoming run down and falling ill again.

“I was not really recovering and also not really motivated, because the Classics are next week and I don’t know if it was good to go so deep,” he said after yesterday’s withdrawal. “I didn’t feel very good so I said that I’d just stop and try to recover and train for the next week.”

When Gilbert announced that he would not compete in Flanders, he said that riding the Vuelta al Pais Vasco would enable him to fine tune his form in advance of the Amstel Gold Race, Flèche Wallonne and Liège-Bastogne-Liège, his top goals of the first part of the season.

The world champion said that he needed to get a stage race in his legs and to be able to ride hard on the climbs that he would encounter in the Basque race. While his best placing was nineteenth on stage one, he said that he didn’t try to dig too deep.

“The first four stages were very hard and I was always there, trying just to follow,” he said. “For me, this race was just training. I think I made some good efforts and we will see next week.”

Gilbert does however admit that he isn’t sure where his form is and if he is on track for a top Ardennes campaign. “I don’t know, it is hard to say. We will see after the races.”

Last year he was short of condition, having to be content with third in Flèche Wallonne and sixth in the Amstel Gold Race. Winning one of the Ardennes Classics as world champion is a big target for him.


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