Marc Sergeant confident that Philippe Gilbert is on track for Worlds glory
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Sunday, September 26, 2010

Marc Sergeant confident that Philippe Gilbert is on track for Worlds glory

by Jered Gruber at 6:29 AM EST   comments
Categories: Pro Cycling
Omega Pharma-Lotto manager not worried that Gilbert has peaked too soon

Omega Pharma-Lotto team manager, Marc Sergeant has a lot to be happy about right now. His Omega Pharma-Lotto team has enjoyed its best season in quite some time, his superstar Walloon, Philippe Gilbert, has assumed his position as one of the world's absolute best, Jurgen Van Den Broeck continues his ascension toward the extremely select group of riders that can win a Grand Tour, and the Belgian national team at Worlds looks a lot like the team he manages on a daily basis.

The recent Omega Pharma purple patch has largely been led by Philippe Gilbert. Gilbert enjoyed a fantastic Vuelta, which included two stage wins, a number of other top stage placings, a run in the red leader's jersey, and a push for the points classification. While the world might not have been too surprised by Gilbert's performance at the Vuelta, it seems that both Gilbert and his team were at least mildly surprised.

"I was a little surprised, because before the Vuelta, during a meeting, he said that he was unsure of his condition. But a few days later, he put in a great performance in his first opportunity to get the stage victory, before defending the red jersey as race leader beautifully," confesses Sergeant in a chat with La Derniere Heure.

The plight of the rider who shows fantastic form in a lead-up race to a major goal is a mixed one though. The hype builds around the rider, and then almost inevitably, the questions begin to mount: did the rider peak too soon? There's good reason for it, because it's not a rare thing for a rider to hit top condition in the weeks leading up to a major goal, and then fall considerably short of expectations when the big day comes. The one day classics are probably the most brutal of all though - it's all or nothing. If a rider wins, his preparation and form are confirmed, but if he doesn't, everything is questioned. Sergeant feels that Gilbert has enjoyed a perfect run-in to next weekend's World Championships - he sees nothing left to chance.

"But this is not the case [that Gilbert has peaked too early]. He has managed his preparation well. He turned it off after the Classics and rested after the Belgium Championships before returning with a training camp in Livigno, and then he took part in three races right before the Vuelta: San Sebastian, Hamburg, and Plouay."

Sergeant eyebrows have not been raised by the furor surrounding the possibilities of a first Belgian elite World Championship victory since Tom Boonen's triumph in 2005. For Sergeant, it's only natural, because Gilbert is the best in the world in the one-day races.

"It is not surprising, everyone knows he has become one of the best, if not the best, specialist in one-day races. And when Gilbert is focused on a goal, you be sure he is ready."

Just because Gilbert might be the preeminent current one-day threat does not guarantee victory though.

"While recognizing that he handles the pressure very well, beware, he will not be the only favorite: Filippo Pozzato looks good too; Thor Hushovd has also made a good impression."

As a manager, one of the greatest pleasures of all has to be seeing your team as the biggest factor in national team colors. It's a position that Sergeant can enjoy in 2010 with five of Belgium's nine: Mario Aerts, Philippe Gilbert, Leif Hoste, Jurgen Roelandts, and Greg Van Avermaet.

"This is a national team that looks like Omega Pharma-Lotto, but it makes sense when you see how our team has ridden at the Vuelta, but also the work done at the Tour by Mario Aerts, while we can also have confidence in Jurgen Roelandts, who has prepared well for the Worlds."


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