Gilbert in better form than last year, worried about peaking too soon
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Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Gilbert in better form than last year, worried about peaking too soon

by Conal Andrews at 10:24 AM EST   comments
Categories: Pro Cycling, Spring Classics
 

Philippe Gilbert, one of the most impressive riders from 2009, has said that he is already in such good shape that he is deliberately backing off on his training. He is lighter and fitter than this time last year, and looks on track to dispute his first big season goal, Milan San Remo.

“I managed this off-season well. Every time I had to go to Belgium for a prize…I combined that to organise things with the team,” he told DH.be, showing that he made the maximum use of his time. “I managed the winter well. I am a kilo lighter than last year and I am also in better condition.”

The Monaco-based Belgian had a stunning end of season, scooping four consecutive victories - the Coppa Sabatini, Paris-Tours, the Tour of Piemonte and the Tour of Lombardy. The last of those, Lombardy, was particularly impressive as he triumphed despite being watched by every other rider in the race. He had started as the hottest of favourites, yet still had the strength to storm clear on the final climb and edge out Olympic champion Samuel Sanchez in the sprint.

Back in November, he told Belgian media sources that the chance to extend this streak was a big motivation for him heading towards the 2010 season. “If I win Milan-Sanremo, I will have won three consecutive top Classic races [after Paris-Tours and Lombardy],” he explained. “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.”

Gilbert is two and a half weeks away from his first race, the Tour of Qatar and, more importantly, he’s a full two months off the date of his first major target, San Remo. Because his condition is already so good, he’s decided to back off.

“Things are good, but I keep in mind that I am a rider who doesn’t have to train a lot to be strong,” he told DH.be. “I am consequently a little afraid that the form could arrive too early. Therefore, I will make sure to rest. After this training in Majorca, there will be another one in the week before two races…the Tours of Qatar and Oman. This Friday, I will go back to my house in Monaco, and I will certainly take three rest days during the week.

Last spring the Silence Lotto team took a long time to get going. It failed to take any victories prior to Cadel Evans’ stage win in the Settimana Coppi e Bartali on March 28th; meanwhile, arch-rivals Quick Step had clocked up eleven triumphs, and was far ahead in the publicity stakes.

Fortunately, things appear to be better this time round. “Some good work has been done and the whole team appears to be very motivated,” Gilbert explained. “For my team-mates, I’m not easy to work for, as I am not a sprinter. To help me, it is necessary [for them] to make the race hard. But the guys know that I also put myself at their service and that one day, I will help them too to succeed.”


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