Gilbert confirms that he’ll miss the Tour de France
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Thursday, May 20, 2010

Gilbert confirms that he’ll miss the Tour de France

by Conal Andrews at 7:22 AM EST   comments
Categories: Pro Cycling, Tour de France, World Championships
 
Belgian focusses on Worlds as big season goal

Philippe GilbertThe sight of Philippe Gilbert in full flight is one of the most impressive images in cycling, given his swashbuckling style, but fans of the Belgian rider will have to wait until the Vuelta a España before they can cheer him on on a Grand Tour.

The Omega-Pharma Lotto rider has now made a definite decision about his participation in the Tour de France and, as hinted before, he wants to give the race a miss.

“I’ve never really considered participation,” he told La Nouvelle Gazette. “This news will come as no surprise, but I never really considered riding this year’s Tour.”

"From the moment I decided to do the Classics and ride the Vuelta to get ready for the worlds, it would be crazy to do it.”

He is aiming to win the world road race championships in October and prefers to structure his season around taking a break in July, and then building back up for the final months of the season.

The Vuelta a España is widely perceived as being the best goal for the world championships and while 2009 worlds winner Cadel Evans rode both the Tour and the Vuelta, Gilbert’s focus on the early-season Classics makes it next to impossible to keep pushing for so long.

Missing the Tour enables him to have two distinct peaks in the season and will, he hopes, enable him to grab the rainbow jersey.

One week ago, his team manager Marc Sergeant appeared to be leaning towards encouraging the rider to compete in July. While he officially said that Gilbert would have the final decision, he underlined the importance of the Tour to Het Laaste Nieuws, thus revealing what he hoped the rider would do.

“I estimate the probability at 50 percent. The publicity value of the Tour de France is not to be sneezed at.

“You can ask Marc Wauters what impact holding the yellow jersey at home has,” he said, speaking about a Belgian rider who won a stage and took the race lead in Antwerp in 2001. This year’s Tour once again passes through Belgium.

“The ball is in his court. Whether it is yes or no, there is something to be said for both choices. After his strong spring, we have given him a break in May. He will return to racing in the Tour of Belgium. We can’t rush him now to make quick decisions.”

Gilbert has now indeed arrived at a decision and while it is one Sergeant might have mixed feelings about, if the rider goes on to win the worlds, his choice of racing programme will be fully vindicated.

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