Philippe Gilbert: “I just hope that my condition is better than Flèche Wallonne”
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Friday, April 19, 2013

Philippe Gilbert: “I just hope that my condition is better than Flèche Wallonne”

by Ben Atkins at 5:26 PM EST   comments
Categories: Pro Cycling, Spring Classics, Liège-Bastogne-Liège
 
World champion predicts tactical Liège-Bastogne-Liège; shares BMC leadership with Greg Van Avermaet

philippe gilbertPhilippe Gilbert (BMC Racing) heads into Sunday’s Liège-Bastogne-Liège as one of the big favourites to repeat his 2011 victory, despite having yet to win a race in his rainbow jersey. The World champion has been active at the front of many of the big Classics this season, but has been unable to take the final victory, although Wednesday’s Flèche Wallonne saw him struggle at the finish of the race he won in 2010 and 2011.

“I just hope that my condition is better than Flèche Wallonne,” Gilbert told BMC Racing’s pre-race press conference at the team hotel in Chaudfontaine, Belgium. “It’s a different race, Liège is long, a long Classic, you have to wait a lot, keep a lot of energy and then in the final it’s always the strong guys emerging for the final.

“I will be there,” he added. “We have a new final maybe more tactical so the team will play a big role on Sunday, and I think we have a good team. I can be confident in the team, and we will see.”

Gilbert will share team leadership in the race with compatriot Greg Van Avermaet, who also has ambitions in the race at the end of a long and aggressive Classics season.

“For me it’s been a long period for the Classics, but I’m still motivated to do this one, otherwise I would not start,” the 27-year-old told the press conference. “Hopefully I can make another good result, or be important for the team.

“We’ll see how my legs are,” Van Avermaet added. “I think I’m still strong enough to do something, so I’m happy to start in Liège and I hope for a good race for me on Sunday.

BMC Racing’s general manager Jim Ochowicz confirmed that the team would continue to show the aggressive tactics that it has displayed in many of the Classic races this spring.

“I think in every race we’ve shown our colours but we haven’t won one yet, but we have certainly been part of the race, and so that’s been exciting for us as a team,” he said.

“We’ll continue to do that on Sunday and we’ll see what the results bring. But we will be in the race, and we will be aggressive as usual, and [we’re] looking forward to a good result for us.”

Following the story in French sportspaper l’Equipe that claimed that 20 riders would be prevented from starting Liège-Bastogne-Liège after littering during Flèche Wallonne, BMC Racing’s directeur sportif John Lelangue was keen to emphasise that there had been nothing of substance behind the story.

“I can tell you that there was never any suspicion about this, that we were heard by the police - no problem - but there [was] never any threat of not taking the start,” he said.

Gilbert himself had been named as one of those that would have been prevented from racing, but Lelangue specifically confirmed that the World champion would be there on Sunday.

“There is no problem,” he said. “Philippe will be at the start.”

BMC Racing Team for Liège-Bastogne-Liège
Brent Bookwalter, Marcus Burghardt, Steve Cummings, Mathias Frank, Philippe Gilbert, Amaël Moinard, Dominik Nerz, Greg Van Avermaet.

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