Gilbert to target Romandie after Ardennes Classics and push for World’s number one slot
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Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Gilbert to target Romandie after Ardennes Classics and push for World’s number one slot

by Conal Andrews at 6:13 AM EST   comments
Categories: Pro Cycling, Spring Classics, Tour of Romandie, Liège-Bastogne-Liège , Flèche Wallonne

Now just twelve points off the Spaniard Luis Leon Sanchez in the UCI world ranking, Philippe Gilbert will also target the Tour de Romandie in order to boost his chances of taking over as world number one.

“I’ve spoken with the sports director [Roberto] Damiani and he told me that the route is good for me,” Gilbert said at yesterday’s press conference, according to Sporza. “So after Liège-Bastogne-Liège I will race Romandie. I’ll try to get to world number one in the rankings. Last year I almost succeeded, but I was too far back in Romandie [he was 14th overall]. This year I will try to realise my dream of a top ten place.”

After last year’s edition, Gilbert was fifth overall in the UCI rankings, 26 points behind Heinrich Haussler (Cervélo Test Team). Race winner Roman Kreuziger picked up a considerable 108 points for his success; had Gilbert finished in the top seven, he would have overtaken Haussler.

Before Romandie, the Omega Pharma-Lotto rider has two other chances to take over at the top. He will compete in tomorrow’s Flèche Wallonne race, then Sunday’s Liège-Bastogne-Liège Classic. He was fourth in the latter event last year but, given his formidable acceleration on the Cauberg two days ago, will be regarded as one of the big favourites.

As regards to tomorrow’s event, he has played down his chances somewhat in Flèche Wallonne, saying that the steep finish of the Mur de Huy doesn’t suit him particularly well. He was only 35th there last year. However he is hoping that the revised, tougher finale – which covers the Mur de Huy twice in thirty kilometres, as well as the Côte d’Ereffe - will enable a different pattern of racing. This presumably means that he will try to get clear before that final ramp up to the line.

But Sunday is the one he is most targeting. At yesterday’s press conference, Gilbert repeated his intention of trying to take all of the monuments, and victory in Liège would see him hold three out of the five. “It is my goal to win all the Classics at least once,” he said. “So I have plenty to work left. What leads me to believe this [is possible] is that I have ridden all the races and had winning chances, except in Roubaix. But I’ll also target Hell [the Hell of the North].”

After his big push for Flèche, Liège and Romandie, Gilbert will be due to take a break and recharge his batteries. He’s been training and racing hard for months now, and some time away from competition will enable him to recuperate for the second half of the season. He wants to be good in the autumn, with another major goal taking place then.

“The World Championship in Australia is also a goal. I won’t see the route before the race, but we have made a simulation. On Thursday I will look at how I must prepare myself for that.”

Gilbert finished sixth in last year’s worlds, then went on to take four big one-day races in succession, including the Giro di Lombardia. That run of results, plus his incredible finish on Sunday, has marked him out as one of the top one-day riders in the sport.


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