Philippe Gilbert escapes crash and injury on the Cipressa
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Friday, February 25, 2011

Philippe Gilbert escapes crash and injury on the Cipressa

by Jered Gruber at 6:27 PM EST   comments
Categories: Pro Cycling
Belgian star narrowly avoided a bad crash on the descent of the Cipressa on Wednesday

Omega Pharma-Lotto's one day king, Philippe Gilbert, has had a perfect start to the season. The winner of the 2010 Amstel Gold Race took victory in the first stage of the Volta ao Algarve, held the lead for two days, then returned home to Monaco this past week to continue his early season preparations.

The Belgian superstar aimed his attention toward nearby Italy for his Wednesday ride with Garmin-Cervelo's World Champion Thor Hushovd and RadioShack's Gregory Rast. The threesome took in the final two critical ascents of the upcoming first Monument of the season, Milano-Sanremo - the Cipressa and the Poggio as part of a solid day's effort.

Both climbs are legendary ascents, but also boast descents that are just as famous. Of course, bike racers have a penchant for going fast downhill, so it comes as no surprise when Gilbert confesses that he and his training partners like to give it a little bit of gas on the descent.

"After the climb of the Cipressa, we put in a big acceleration. It's always like that, it's a bit of a tradition for us," said the Wallonian to Belgian daily Het Laatste Nieuws.

That's all well and good, but things took a turn for near disaster for the two-time Omloop Het Nieuwsblad/Het Volk winner when his chain jumped and locked up his rear wheel.

"I was on Hushovd's wheel when suddenly my chain jumped, literally blocking my derailleur and my rear wheel. I do not know how I managed to control my bike, but it seems impossible that I did not find myself on the ground. I really had a lot of luck."

Needless to say, had Gilbert not held it together there, he most likely would not be talking about a possible third win in Belgium's opening race on Saturday, and he might have ended up a lot worse off. Thankfully, it was just an almost and a big sigh of relief.

Gilbert doesn't seem to be too bothered with the memory. If anything, he seems to like thinking back to the glorious sunshine that marked the day.

"We had a day of sun, and when I got home from training, it was 15C."

The 28 year old certainly won't be seeing weather like that this weekend in Belgium.


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