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"If I had won a Classic in the spring, I would have probably ignored the Tour de France. But I have not won and that is a big disappointment," said Gilbert. "I need the Tour now."

Photo: ASO






29.04.2013 @ 12:02 Posted by Jesper Ralbjerg

Reigning world road champion Philippe Gilbert (BMC) has so far spent a luckless and unsuccessful 2013 season in terms of victories. For the second consecutive year the Belgian has gone without a win in the Ardennes Classics or to be more specific, simply a win in the opening four months of the season.


His winless streak has now led him to question his early season schedule, travelling to Australia for the Tour Down Under and the demands placed on the world champion being blamed for his failure to capture one of the coveted Ardennes Classics.


"It was wrong to ride the Tour Down Under," Gilbert told Belgian newspaper Nieuwsblad. "The travel was too heavy. You really need a month in advance for travelling [to Australia] and it was also stressful. Everyone wanted a piece of the world champion," he said.


Evidently the Ardennes Classics, battleground for some of Gilbert’s greatest successes in the past, featured prominently on Gilbert’s wish list for this season but as witnessed at La Flèche Wallonne, the favourites put a considerable pressure on the shoulders of the former winner and effectively marked him out of the race on the final ascent of the Mur de Huy.


"In the finals of the Ardennes Classics there was a huge burden because everyone looks at you. It was quite different from wearing the Belgian champion jersey."


With nearly half the year already behind him and no victory to his name, Gilbert is considering riding the Tour de France to remedy his lack of winning results.


"If I had won a classic in the spring, I would have probably ignored the Tour de France. But I have not won and that is a big disappointment," said Gilbert. "I need the Tour now. But there are absolutely no guarantees. There are 14 or 15 riders for 9 places. Only Cadel Evans and Tejay van Garderen are certain."


In a team likely to include former winner Evans and a potential rider for the podium in the shape of up-and-coming star van Garderen, Gilbert's role could mean setting aside his personal ambitions for the greater good. Additionally, a rider of Gilbert's quality and characteristics may not easily be assimilated to the US Pro Team’s aspirations to bring home the yellow jersey.

"I won't be there to help in the mountains but that does not mean I take the place of someone else. There is Evans and van Garderen but we do not have any other real climbers in the team," he said.



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