Milano-Sanremo primary target for Philippe Gilbert in 2014
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Saturday, October 19, 2013

Milano-Sanremo primary target for Philippe Gilbert in 2014

by Ben Atkins at 10:15 AM EST   comments
Categories: Pro Cycling, Spring Classics, Milan-Sanremo
New course suits former World champion as he seeks to fill the hole in his palmares

philippe gilbertPhilippe Gilbert (BMC Racing) will be aiming squarely at a first ever Milano-Sanremo victory in 2014, as the former World champion seeks to fill the one major gap in his one-day palmares. The 31-year-old Belgian has won virtually all of the non-cobbled Classics at least once, but his best in La Primavera has been his two third places in 2008 and 2011.

One thing that Gilbert feels will work in his favour will be the inclusion of the Pompeiana climb, in between the Cipressa and the Poggio, which could potentially see the front group break up more than usual.

"As soon as we climb the new ramp, I see no sprinter who will be able to follow,” Gilbert told Sporza at BMC Racing’s team presentation in Grenchen, Switzerland, yesterday. “Except maybe [Peter] Sagan, he is an exception."

"Twice I was close to victory,” Gilbert added. “I was already twice on the podium. I can win Milan-Sanremo. I'm sure, more than ever. Preparation during the winter will be crucial.”

Gilbert has just had two uncharacteristically lean seasons. Aside from his World title last year, his only victories in 2012 and 2013 have been as late as stage victories in the Vuelta a España. To achieve his aims in 2014, he will be making changes to his programme, as BMC Racing’s directeur sportif Allan Pieper told Het Nieuwsblad.

"Philippe is a cyclist from the old school," Pieper explained. "He never even had a trainer. But the world has changed. You can not race from the Omloop Het Nieuwsblad to Liège-Bastogne-Liège any more. It is better not to be fit for the Omloop and Kuurne.

“And the Tour of Flanders is not compatible with the Ardennes classics,’ Pieper continued. “I've talked about with Philippe. He understands. He will ride a very different program next year. Qatar and Oman instead of Tour Down Under, Tirreno instead of Paris-Nice to peak at its first objective: the new Milan-Sanremo. No Tour of Flanders, but a specific training session, and the Basque Country and Brabantse Pijl to peak for the Ardennes.

“After a quiet summer without the Tour will come a third peak at the World Championships, followed by another big race.”

Gilbert is not the only one to have had a disappointing season this year, with many of BMC Racing’s big stars failing to perform on the biggest stages. Pieper expects better things in 2014, however, as he explained to Sporza.

"We are aiming for 40 victories, including a Classic, a Grand Tour and the World Championship team time trial,” he said. “We want to finish 2014 in third place of the UCI team ranking."


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