Gilbert to miss Tour, concentrate on Classics and worlds
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Tuesday, November 03, 2009

Gilbert to miss Tour, concentrate on Classics and worlds

by Conal Andrews at 6:33 AM EST   comments
Categories: Pro Cycling
 

He had a superb run of four consecutive victories at the end of the season, amongst them the prestigious Tour of Lombardy, but Philippe Gilbert’s growing ambitions don’t lie in netting stage wins in the 2010 Tour de France.

The Belgian Silence-Lotto rider has decided to concentrate his efforts elsewhere next season, saying that basing his racing around France in July does not fit into his schedule. “In the Tour, I can only lose,” he told Belgian media outlet Sporza.

Instead, he’ll aim to be strong early on and then once again in the finale of the season, with the Classics and the world championships in Australia being his two main targets.

“I start my season in Qatar,” he stated, outlining his plans. “Eddy Merckx has personally asked me to participate there, and I can’t say no to someone like him.”

“In the spring, I will focus on the Classics. If I win Milan-Sanremo, I won three consecutive top Classic races [after Paris-Tours and Lombardy]. That would be unique. I will definitely try. After the Primavera, the Tour of Flanders and the Walloon Classics will follow. I hope to do something better than this year.”

Australian rider Cadel Evans had been the team leader in the Grand Tours but following his sudden departure, the emphasis of the team will have to change. Gilbert states as much, saying that it is no longer a team for the three week races and that this puts more pressure on him to succeed.

He rode the Giro d’Italia and the Vuelta a España in 2009; next season, he is likely to miss the former. “The route of the Giro is far too tough, and in principle I don’t participate in the Tour de France. I have only three or four chances. The finishes in Belgium are close, but it’s like playing the Lotto.”

He’s instead likely to back off and recharge his batteries for a big end of season, with the Vuelta likely to be used to build form.

“I finish with the same program as this year,” he said. “I know that this is a heavy programme, but with a good preparation and a break in July, I can succeed.”

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