Gilbert finds silver lining in Amstel Gold Race result: ‘The main thing is that the legs are back in a good way’
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Sunday, April 14, 2013

Gilbert finds silver lining in Amstel Gold Race result: ‘The main thing is that the legs are back in a good way’

by Shane Stokes at 1:56 PM EST   comments
Categories: Pro Cycling, Spring Classics, Amstel Gold Race
 
Belgian rider fifth after being delayed in big crash; acrobatics spare him injury

Philippe GilbertHitting the jets on the climb of the Cauberg like he did in the past when he won two Amstel Gold Races and last year’s world championships, Philippe Gilbert was unable to pull out the win today. Although he was the strongest rider on the climb, lone leader Roman Kreuziger (Team Saxo Tinkoff) had a sufficiently large lead to hold on to nab the biggest win of his career.

Gilbert was second over the top but with Simon Gerrans (Orica GreenEdge) and Alejandro Valverde (Movistar) able to limit their losses to him on the climb, both got back to him on the flat section afterwards. This trio didn’t work optimally and, as Kreuziger was celebrating his success, the Gilbert group was caught by another which was behind.

The BMC Racing Team rider was to the fore in that sprint, but had to accept fifth today.

“It was hard at the end, there was a lot of wind and we were only with three from our team,” he said afterwards. “I tried it at the Cauberg. But it wasn't enough; they came back and I just missed the podium.”

Peter Sagan’s Cannondale team took responsibility in chasing the big break. “They were the favourites…they were pulling almost all day,” Gilbert continued. “Finally it was very nervous with new final [finale]. People were nervous and everybody was keeping some reserves for the finale.

“We tried to close the gap at the end but it wasn’t easy. I tried on the last climb, and I missed the podium, I missed the win. But the main thing is that the legs are back in a good way. That gives me confidence for Wednesday and next Sunday.”

Earlier, Gilbert had a near miss when he was caught up in a big crash. While his bike was tangled up in the mishap, he himself escaped injury due to some involuntary acrobatics on his part.

“A rider crashed in front of me. He was less than one metre in front of me, so I could not go to the side. I just hit him,” he said. “By chance I landed on my shoes. I had to run really fast…but I didn’t crash.

“I had to turn back and search for my bike…it was under two bikes. My handlebar with in the front wheel of another rider. So it was not possible to take it back and I had to wait for another BMC bike.”

While he was able to get back on, it took more than fifteen kilometres and the mishap cost both him and his BMC Racing Team important energy. Hours later, that may have made the difference between being able to get close to Kreuziger or not.

“It took a lot of work,” said the BMC Racing Team President/General Manager Jim Ochowicz. “We lost two or three riders in the process. The gap gets quite large when you're on the ground and need a bike change. It's not like thirty seconds – it was more like two minutes.”

Gilbert is still waiting to clock up his first win in the rainbow jersey. Given his past successes in Amstel plus his worlds triumph last September, it would have been a very emotional moment had he achieved that first post-worlds success on such familiar ground.

It was not to be, but he draws encouragement from the fact that he is clearly in good shape. “Normally every year you would take the top ten from Amstel and it almost the top ten of Liège. Almost the same guys. If it is the same like in the past, I will be there to play something in the final of Liège.”

Before then, he has another race he has taken in the past, Flèche Wallonne. He describes that as ‘a very nice race,’ but also states that he won’t give absolutely everything to win that Classic. He’ll try to, of course, but won’t flog himself so much that it will affect his chances in Liège.

“Wednesday for me is a very nice race, but I will always take it like usual. Just take it without big pressure. If we can come all together at the bottom of the last time, then I have a chance,” he said. “If there is a breakaway gone, I think we have also to save the team because if you work hard on Wednesday, it is hard to recover and work hard on Sunday.

“You have to make some choices. For me it is important to race Wednesday but not to kill myself or kill the team.”

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