Gilbert ready to chase Ardennes success, wants world number one slot
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Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Gilbert ready to chase Ardennes success, wants world number one slot

by Conal Andrews at 9:14 AM EST   comments
Categories: Pro Cycling, Spring Classics, Liège-Bastogne-Liège , Amstel Gold Race, Flèche Wallonne, Brabantse Pijl
 

With Tom Boonen being unable to achieve his goal of winning Milan-Sanremo, the Tour of Flanders or Paris-Roubaix, the Belgian publics’ focus will turn to Philippe Gilbert for the upcoming Ardennes Classics. They will be hoping that the Omega Pharma Lotto rider can deliver on his spring goals and net the first big one-day success of the season for the country.

Gilbert will do the Brabantse Pijl tomorrow as a tune-up, while also aiming for the win if it is possible. He was second there two years ago and knows what is required to be up there at the end. After that, he will set his sights on Sunday’s Amstel Gold race, then Flèche Wallonne and Liège-Bastogne-Liège.

He was fourth in Amstel and Liège last season, and he is raring to go as regards two of his big targets for 2010.

“These are the races that I’ve been working towards. It’s time to harvest. I’m ready,” he told Het Laaste Nieuws. Gilbert has the chance to take the first Belgian Classic win of the season, as well as net the first victory for the Omega Pharma Lotto squad.

That’s something which would stifle a lesser rider, but he feels fine about the attention. “That does not create any more pressure,” he said. “Rather it motivates me even more. I set the bar high for myself anyway.”

He’s able to stay relaxed, even though he knows that there’s a lot of expectation there. “If I win, I will achieve something special, and will ensure good publicity for the team,” he said. “If I do not, the team and the leader will again be blasted by the critics.

“For Flèche Wallonne, I will temper my ambitions. I must be realistic. The course suits me a little less [than the others], although the redesign of the finale increases my chances.”

Now 27 years of age, the Walloon is regarded as one of the top Classics riders in the sport. He’s likely to keep improving for a few more seasons and plans to make the most of that strength to chase a big achievement, namely becoming world number one.

“Last year I was already close,” he said, speaking about that target. “I would certainly like to achieve this at one point in my career. It is a goal in itself.”

The Omega Pharma-Lotto team is yet to take a victory in 2010. If Gilbert manages to take on of the four one-day races, it would take the pressure off the others and, hopefully, start a run of better results for them.

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