Gilbert goes close to win, says his form will be “better and better” as the world championships approaches
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Friday, August 30, 2013

Gilbert goes close to win, says his form will be “better and better” as the world championships approaches

by Shane Stokes at 3:01 PM EST   comments
Categories: Pro Cycling, Vuelta a España
 
Pinotti gets good workout with long breakaway

Philippe GilbertAlthough he is still battling to take his first victory in the rainbow jersey of world champion, Philippe Gilbert has taken encouragement from his near miss today when he finished second on stage seven of the Vuelta a España.

The BMC Racing Team rider has been struggling with the after-effects of a bad injury he suffered to his left knee in the Eneco Tour, and said that he is finally feeling like himself again.

While he was frustrated to miss out by inches to the Czech rider Zdenek Stybar (Omega Pharma Quick Step), with whom he attacked inside the final ten kilometres, Gilbert believes he is back on track after his injury.

“Yesterday was the first day when I had some feeling back in my legs after the crash,” he stated. “I am happy. I am still missing a victory this season, but I have been close to the win a lot of times.”

He and Stybar struck out for home after a break containing his team-mate Marco Pinotti, Francisco Javier Aramendia (Caja Rural) and Christian Knees (Sky Procycling) were reeled in with less than twenty kilometres to go.

Gilbert and Stybar saw a chance, went for it, and held on to the finish. “I think I was going on the right moment as I knew there were a lot of roundabouts and corners,” Gilbert explained. “I think for a race of this level, that is not normal.

“I took advantage of this situation with all of the motorbikes in front. This made a huge difference as you are always behind them and I think riding about five kilometres per hour higher than the bunch behind.”

Today’s result was his fifth runner-up slot of the season, following on from identical placings on a stage of Paris-Nice, in the Brabantse Pijl, the Belgian TT championship and, most recently, on stage two of the Eneco Tour.

He looked like he had timed things just right when he tacked onto the back wheel of Stybar when he led out the sprint, but left his lunge for the line fractionally too late, enabling the former world cyclo cross champion to just hang on.

He said that he had no hard feelings about Stybar’s victory. “He was also working and he deserved the win. It was such a strange situation with [Stybar’s team-mate Gianni] Meersman behind. He didn’t have to pull if he wanted, but he did it.”

Gilbert’s first win of last year came on stage nine of the Vuelta. He believes his form is picking up and that he can continue fighting for stage wins in this race and also to try to successfully defend his title at the worlds.

Tweeting after the stage, he said that his condition will be “better and better” from this point on.

Meanwhile his team-mate Pinotti has said that his prime target of the stage, getting some important time out front prior to the worlds time trial, was achieved.

He, Knees and Aramendia clipped away eleven kilometres into the stage and opened up a gap of over seven minutes. It followed from an unsuccessful attempt to bridge across to world TT champ Tony Martin (Omega Pharma Quick Step) on yesterday’s stage.

He was the last of the trio to be caught, jumping away just before the bunch made the junction with seventeen kilometres left and remaining clear for two more kilometres.

“It's been a couple of days that I've been trying to be in the main breakaway,” Pinotti said after the finish. "Today was the day that the sprinters’ teams and others were almost missing the break, so it was difficult to arrive. Spending so much time in front is good training and preparation to improve the form. It is something I do a lot in training. So I achieved that goal today”

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