Philippe Gilbert: "It is always better to win, but we did a great race”
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Wednesday, April 10, 2013

Philippe Gilbert: "It is always better to win, but we did a great race”

by Ben Atkins at 3:13 PM EST   comments
Categories: Pro Cycling, Spring Classics, Brabantse Pijl
 
World champion narrowly beaten in Brabantse Pijl but confident ahead of Amstel

philippe gilbertPhilippe Gilbert (BMC Racing) could hardly have come closer to taking his second edition of the Brabantse Pijl today, as Peter Sagan (Cannondale) denied him his first victory in the rainbow jersey. The Slovakian champion was the strongest in the race once again, as he was forced to chase down a late attack from Gilbert’s teammate Greg Van Avermaet on the final climb, and was still strong enough to win the finishing sprint.

Gilbert, with Van Avermaet up the road, had positioned himself perfectly to beat Sagan, but was a little surprised by the Slovak at the finish.

"I was confident for the sprint because I was already on his wheel the last five kilometres and I was very focused," Gilbert said afterwards. "It was so close."

“If you’re coming to win then it’s too bad when you’re beaten,” the World champion told the post-race press conference. “On the other hand, I’m now certain that I made the right choice to add the Vuelta al Pais Vasco to my programme. My form seriously increased there, and hopefully it will deliver a nice victory in the upcoming races.

“Here I was beaten by a strong Sagan, but he is a super talent,” Gilbert conceded.

Gilbert had been propelled to the front of the race in the closing 20km of the race, as Van Avermaet accelerated on the Hagaard climb and pulled the World champion across to a six-man breakaway group. Unfortunately, however, Sagan also managed to follow, with Sylvain Chavanel (Omega Pharma-Quick Step) and Simon Geschke (Argos-Shimano) also joining.

“As a team we had a great race,” Gilbert explained. “Greg was a great help in getting me to the front of the race, and then with his attack in the final kilometres we were in the ideal position. He could win if Sagan had not responded, and I could if Peter did. That’s how it happened, but he proved too strong in the sprint.

“I don’t think it would have made a difference if I had waited a little longer to sprint,” he admitted. “I couldn’t compete against Peter’s explosiveness.

"It is always better to win, but we did a great race and we played our cards in the final," Gilbert said later. "It also gives a lot of confidence to the team and to myself as well. But it's always better to win, for sure."

Van Avermaet was one of only two of the BMC Racing Team’s Brabantse Pijl roster to have raced at Paris-Roubaix the previous Sunday [the other being Danilo Wyss - ed] where he had finished fourth. The Belgian may well have been feeling those tough, cobbled kilometres at the start of today’s race, but soon got into his stride as the team went on the offensive.

"At the beginning of the race, I wasn't feeling so good," he said. "But after I attacked with Philippe on my wheel, I still had good legs. We did some good teamwork to attack there."

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