Philippe Gilbert hoping for a tailwind after the Poggio in Milan-Sanremo finale
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Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Philippe Gilbert hoping for a tailwind after the Poggio in Milan-Sanremo finale

by Jered Gruber at 5:25 PM EST   comments
Categories: Pro Cycling
Belgian believes it's the only chance for a breakaway to stay away

Philippe Gilbert might have made yet another giant stride forward en route to becoming the world's sovereign one day classics specialist over the winter and so far this young season, but there's still something he can't do much against: the wind.

Looking ahead to Saturday's Milano-Sanremo, the rider who lives just up the coast in Monaco, admits that the wind will likely be the main reason he won't be able to get away and vie for the win.

Gilbert has fared well in Sanremo before, even finishing third in 2008, behind a storming Fabian Cancellara. Gilbert notes that a podium finish and a victory are two entirely different things, especially when looking at the year's first Monument.

"The finish of Milano-Sanremo is still scheduled for the Lungo Mare, as it has been for the past three years," says the recent stage winner at Tirreno-Adriatico to RTBF. "I managed a first podium in 2008, and that's a beautiful memory, but to race for victory is something else. Nobody can really escape the pack - Cancellara is almost the only one that can do it. It's very complicated for me to go for the win at Milano-Sanremo with the finish on the Lungo Mare."

The Lungomare Italo Calvino has been in use since 2008. It's a departure from the classic, sheltered, 2.4 kilometer galloping finish on the Via Roma, and instead plops riders out on Sanremo's sunny seaside, and in this case, directly into a typical headwind - the bane of all breakaways.

"I think a lot less of my own chances to impose myself on the race. I train a lot there, and 90% of the time, the wind is from the front. My only hope would be that the tide is turning, and we had the wind at our backs after the Poggio."

If Gilbert could get a tailwind following the Poggio, the chances would open up considerably, as a chasing field has much less of an advantage in a tailwind, as Gilbert explains.

"It would mean that I'd be able to ride, even alone, at 55-60 km/h. It would mean the chasing field behind would then have to go 70, which is impossible. We have a great chance to get away if the wind is from the back, but that is the only way."

Looking soberly over his chances in Sanremo after nearly 300 kilometers of racing, Gilbert recognizes that he'll need a hefty dose of weatherly fortune if he'll be able to notch his name into the Sanremo record books.

"In all races, you need perfect conditions to win. In Milano-Sanremo, it's particularly true, because the wind plays a huge role."

With that in mind, Gilbert has admitted that he's not placing too much emphasis on La Primavera. It's certainly a race he'd like to win, but it will always be a crapshoot for a rider like Gilbert, not at all like the main goals of his 2011 Spring Campaign.

"My peak is later, around the Tour of Flanders, Amstel Gold Race, and Liege-Bastogne-Liege. I can't be stressed about La Primavera. If I get a result, it is great. If not, then no worries," said the Classics threat to Het Nieuwsblad.


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