Eddy Merckx picks Gilbert over Van den Broeck for good Tour finish
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Saturday, November 13, 2010

Eddy Merckx picks Gilbert over Van den Broeck for good Tour finish

by Bjorn Haake at 9:10 AM EST   comments
Categories: Pro Cycling
Belgian legend says it depends if Tour of Lombardy winner has desire

eddy merckxEddy Merckx gives Philippe Gilbert higher chances to do well in the Tour de France than Jurgen van den Broeck, despite the latter having two top 15 finishes in his two Tour de France starts. Gilbert's best finish, a 70th place in the 2005 Tour de France, is a far cry from the fifth place that Van den Broeck managed this year.

Eddy Merckx is certain this has to do more with desire than ability. "If he can make the sacrifices and if he loses some weight to figure in the mountains, why not?" Merckx tells lavenir.net. "Above 2,000 meters weight becomes the enemy number one." Gilbert and Van den Broeck both ride for Omega Pharma-Lotto. "It remains to be seen if one day he will have the desire to put it all on the Tour, knowing that he has a teammate who can get onto the podium."

One thing is certain, Gilbert's Tour time won't come in 2011. He has already marked down the Ronde van Vlaanderen as his main objective. Merckx doesn't really rate this as a tactical announcement to remove his favorite status for Liège-Bastogne-Liège. "The pressure is always there. One thing to learn from the World Championships is that it is better to not show too much that you are the favorite. Be it the Ronde [Tour of Flanders] or at la Doyenne [Liège-Bastogne-Liège], both routes suit him well, according to him."

Merckx was then asked if he could see a little bit of himself in Gilbert. "It is difficult to compare different epochs. Let's just say that Philippe is one of the best riders in his time. Thanks to his temperament, I wish him to become better than Merckx and one day win the Tour."

He sees Van den Broeck not necessarily winning, but on the Tour podium. "If he can improve a bit, yes. His fifth place was no accident. In 2009 he could have already finished higher if he wouldn't have put himself in the services for [Cadel] Evans, after his crash in the team time trial. But in the end I think that Philippe has a higher chance than Jurgen to shine in the Tour one day, because he is mentally stronger."



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