Gilbert reflects on tough start to season and lack of support from his team
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Wednesday, December 9, 2009

Gilbert reflects on tough start to season and lack of support from his team

by Conal Andrews at 10:34 AM EST   comments
Categories: Pro Cycling

2009 turned out to be Philippe Gilbert’s best season yet, but he has admitted that the early period was deeply disappointing for him. The 27 year old Belgian had transferred to the Silence-Lotto team prior to the start of the season and said that the team struggled to cope with its new role in supporting him in the Classics.

"The first three months at Silence-Lotto were the worst of my career, and I felt really bad," he told Het Laatste Nieuws.

"Nobody listened to me, nobody asked me how things were. At one point I asked myself ‘what the hell am I doing in this team, why have I come here?’

“I wanted to work hard and get results, but the team did too little in the races. It was a losing fight, until the day I got third in the Tour of Flanders. Then I suddenly got inspiration.”

Silence Lotto was roundly criticised for a very slow start to the season in 2009. The team failed to take any victories prior to Cadel Evans’ stage win in the Settimana Coppi e Bartali on March 28th; by that time, arch-rivals Quick Step had clocked up eleven triumphs, and was far ahead in the publicity stakes.

Ultimately, Gilbert and Evans salvaged the team’s season, between them netting ten out of the squad’s twelve victories, but that early period was a frustrating one for the Belgian.

“It was a lack of professionalism,” he said, explaining that the team was unable to carry out what was required. “I think the legacy of the McEwen’s place on the team a big part of it. They would usually just work for a sprinter, which is relatively simple. I'm a different type of rider, who likes the races to be tough. And that's complicated. "

The end of the season showed that things had really turned around for the team, with Evans taking third overall in the Vuelta a España and winning the world championship road race, and Gilbert scooped four consecutive victories - the Coppa Sabatini, Paris-Tours, the Tour of Piemonte and the Tour of Lombardy.

Of some concern will the fact that Evans has now left the team. Apart from taking important results himself, he also helped Gilbert in some of his end-of-season victories, particularly in Piemonte and Lombardy.

The Belgian rider will hope that the team can fill the void next year, and that he’ll have the support he deserves from the start until the end of the season.


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