Philippe Gilbert needs more racing before the classics
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Thursday, February 10, 2011

Philippe Gilbert needs more racing before the classics

by Ben Atkins at 11:26 AM EST   comments
Categories: Pro Cycling, Spring Classics, Tour of Qatar
Missing Qatar and Oman means Belgian star is not at the level he wants for Omloop Het Nieuwsblad

philippe gilbertAlthough he has put in some strong performances in the races of the Mallorca Challenge, Philippe Gilbert (OmegaPharma-Lotto) feels that he needs more races in his legs to be competitive for the classics, according to Sporza. For that reason the Belgian has decided to ride the Volta ao Algarve, which is set to run between the 16th and 20th of this month.

“I have no choice,” Gilbert told Het Laatste Nieuws. “My condition is not bad but not good enough. I aiming for the Omloop Het Nieuwsblad [on February 26th – Ed] and there’s still a lot of work to be done; I’ve decided that I need more competition.”

Gilbert’s name was on the preliminary start list for the race, which must be submitted well in advance so that anti-doping authorities can test riders in their build up, but actually riding was not in his plan, until now.

“The idea was that I would give up my place in Algarve to a teammate,” he explained, “but that is no longer an option. The five day race in Portugal should make all the difference.”

Much of Gilbert’s shortfall in form can be attributed to the fact that the OmegaPharma-Lotto team was surprisingly, and controversially, not invited to either the Tour of Qatar or the Tour of Oman. Race organiser ASO, which also runs the Tour de France and a number of other big races, apparently felt that the Belgian team would not have fielded a particularly strong team; the upshot though is that Gilbert is missing out on a lot of early season races that his rivals are now riding.

“The fact that I am not in Qatar or Oman has had a greater impact than I suspected,” he said. “I thought I could compensate for the lack of kilometres with Mallorca and training hard. I have not been idle in the winter, but I don’t have enough intensity in my training. I’m missing that now.”

In Wednesday’s Trofeo Deià, Gilbert was away in the all day break, but when he and the others were reeled in by the peloton he was dropped on the final climb before the finish. This was not due to form though, he says, but to a lack of motivation when he knew that he had little chance of victory.

“I could have followed,” he said, “but what’s the point if you know you’re not playing to win.”


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