Gilbert dedicates win to VDB and awaits Lombardy
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Friday, October 16, 2009

Gilbert dedicates win to VDB and awaits Lombardy

by Conal Andrews at 9:50 AM EST   comments
Categories: Pro Cycling, Fall Classics, Giro di Lombardia, Paris-Tours
 

Shortly after taking his third consecutive win of the end of season, Belgian rider Philippe Gilbert dedicated his victory to his late compatriot Frank Vandenbroucke. “I thought about him when I rode over the line,” he told Het Laatste Nieuws after yesterday’s Giro del Piemonte. “I know that it doesn’t bring him back to say that this victory is for Franky Boy. But maybe it’s a comfort to his family.

"I didn’t know him really well, but whenever we talked, he enriched my knowledge of the bicycle. He appreciated my way of racing. We talked at the World Championships. His brutal departure has affected me strongly."

Gilbert’s victory followed on from post-Worlds victories in the Coppa Sabatini and Paris-Tours, and highlights the superb form he is in. He reportedly told a mechanic on Wednesday that he was confident of winning, having seen the course then. “The final hill before the finish pleased me greatly,” he said.

"As predicted, I went on the climb 1.5 kilometers from the finish. At the top I had 50 metres on Tosasso, but he cracked.” He then fought it out for the win with Daniel Moreno (Caisse d'Epargne), Francesco Gavazzi (Lampre - N.G.C) and Luca Paolini (Acqua & Sapone - Caffe Mokambo), taking the sprint easily.

“I started winding it up with 300 metres to go and then with 100 metres left, I went flat out. Nobody could pass me,” he explained.

Gilbert moved to the team prior to the start of the season and has played a hugely important role in its year. The Belgian squad came under criticism early on as it was unable to secure any victories in the Spring Classics and other races; Cadel Evans’ win on stage five of the Settimana Coppi e Bartali on March 28th was the first time its riders topped the podium, making it a late opening of its account.

To date the team has taken just eleven wins, far less than the 85 clocked up by Columbia HTC. Of those, Gilbert has taken more than half, winning six times and thus confirming that his signing from Française des Jeux was a worthwhile one.

Evans is the other star rider on the team and despite a disappointing Tour de France, he’s taken other important results such as a stage win in the Dauphiné Libéré, third overall in the Vuelta a España plus – of course - his excellent World Championship victory.

Since the latter event, he’s shown solid form. The Australian was 13th in the Coppa Sabatini and then six days ago placed 4th in the Giro dell’Emilia. He pulled out of yesterday’s race in order to ensure that he would be as fresh as possible for tomorrow’s key event, the Giro di Lombardia.

On paper at least, the hilly parcours suits Evans more. That said, Gilbert’s lightning form means that he will also be a protected rider, and the two will let the road decide who will back who at the end.

"He wants to win, but we are both professionals," yesterday’s victor told La Gazzetta dello Sport. "It's clear between us. If I can win I will do it, but if I see that I am finished, he can win."

Other riders such as triple victor Damiano Cunego (Lampre) and Robert Gesink (Rabobank) will also be in the running. But with two strong riders and momentum on their side, the Silence Lotto duo will have to be marked very closely by their rivals in order to prevent another rousing late season success for the team.

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