Eyeing world championships, Gilbert plays it safe and withdraws from Vuelta a España
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Sunday, September 08, 2013

Eyeing world championships, Gilbert plays it safe and withdraws from Vuelta a España

by VeloNation Press at 4:12 PM EST   comments
Categories: Pro Cycling, Vuelta a España, World Championships
 
“The form is good and I am still motivated to train at home”

Philippe GilbertWith a successful defence of his world championship title taking priority over all else, Philippe Gilbert played it safe and withdrew from the Vuelta a España today, explaining afterwards that he couldn’t risk getting sick before the worlds.

The Belgian has had a season with plenty of near misses, but showed his form and fortune were on the up when he won the twelfth stage of the race. It was his first victory since taking the world title last September, and was a huge relief after trying to christen his jersey with a win.

Gilbert packed today’s stage after just 54 kilometres, and feels sure he did the right thing. “It was extremely cold yesterday and I was still a little bit cold this morning, so I didn't want to risk anything for the worlds,” he explained. “I also decided before [the race] that I was only doing two weeks – and if it was perfect, a little bit more. It is like this. So it's not a surprise for me and the team.”

Gilbert exits the race in a much better condition than when he entered it. He had crashed heavily in the Eneco Tour of Benelux and had bad cuts to his knee.

The wound and stitches held him back early on, but his stage twelve success showed that he is getting back up to speed.

“I was happy to start in the Vuelta because my knee was not the best I could have before. So I was already happy [with that],” he said. “I took all the chances I could get. I got a second [on stage seven] and a first, so it's not bad. So that is not bad. Now I wish all the guys the best in the last week.”

Last year he was also winless before the Vuelta, then clocked up two stage victories before travelling to the worlds and winning gold. Asking how his form now stacks up against how he was feeling at this time last year, he believes he is in the ballpark of where he needs to be.

“Every year is different and it is hard to compare. But the form is good and I am still motivated to train at home,” he said, knowing that there remains three weeks until the world road race championships. “After I have some one day races coming up.”

That programme will include the GP de Wallonie on September 18th; the other events he will ride have not yet been announced.
 

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