Philippe Gilbert sees Roubaix, Flanders and Liège as future goals, and perhaps even Grand Tours
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Monday, October 18, 2010

Philippe Gilbert sees Roubaix, Flanders and Liège as future goals, and perhaps even Grand Tours

by Conal Andrews at 6:25 AM EST   comments
Categories: Pro Cycling, Fall Classics, Giro di Lombardia
 
Belgian Classics specialist ponders targeting major stage races

Philippe GilbertOn a high after winning the Giro del Piemonte, the Tour of Lombardy and the prestigious Flandrien award, Belgiam rider Philippe Gilbert has talked about his future goals and the possibility that he could aim for a high placing in races such as the Tour de France or Vuelta a España.

The Omega Pharma Lotto rider is re-evaluating his career after a superb season, working out what his abilities will allow him to do in future. He wants to set new goals in order to remain motivated, and has a clear idea of the directions he could head in.

“I have already won five Classics, but I still have dreams. The Tour of Flanders, Liège-Bastogne-Liège and Milan-Sanremo are still on my list. Any why not Paris-Roubaix?” he said to Sporza.

“To me, whatever happens, I might still look for a new challenge: a place of merit in a Grand Tour. If I succeed in losing three kilograms of weight, it should be possible. But this is all yet in the future.”

Gilbert has ridden several Grand Tours. He made his debut at 21 years of age when he raced to 32nd overall in the 2004 Giro d’Italia. That suggested a future in long stage races, but he was only 70th and 110th overall in the 2005 and 2006 Tours de France.

More recently, he was 54th and 50th in the 2009 and 2010 Vuelta, showing that he would have to put in quite a bit of work to improve there. As he indicated himself, a small, controlled weight loss would aid his climbing. However, he’d also need to orientate his season around the Grand Tour in question, and tailor his training to boost his multi-day endurance and recovery. That could affect his performance in single-day events.

For this reason, team manager Dirk de Wolf is less than enthusiastic. He describes the talk as “a reaction to all the euphoria,” and clearly feels that there is no point in radically changing a winning formula.

“I think that Philippe should continue developing as he is doing and must continue to focus on the Classics,” he said. “What is the point in him aiming for top 15 in the Vuelta and the Tour?”

De Wolf believes that moving from Française des Jeux to the Belgian team last year was a key factor in his development as a top-rate rider. Although Gilbert had won big races in the past, he has stepped up a level. “He quickly moved forward 5 steps with Lotto, and suddenly he has gone from a winner over 200 kilometre to one over 260 kilometres,”de Wolf explained. “In just three months, he went from a good rider to a great one.”

Gilbert is looking forward to getting back to his base in Monaco, spending time there with his wife and waiting for the birth of their first child. That should be the perfect distraction after a superb season, and give him renewed motivation heading into 2011, and what should be his biggest year yet.

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