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“You never know, you can have a technical or something but I’m in a safe position I think." 

Photo: Sirotti






13.10.2014 @ 16:45 Posted by Emil Axelgaard

Philippe Gilbert again put his great form on show when he defied expectations by matching the best climbers on the queen stage of the Tour of Beijing to defend his overall lead. With just a flat stage to go, the Belgian feels confident that he has won the race overall.


Philippe Gilbert's third-place finish on Monday's mountain-top finish at the Tour of Beijing kept him in the leader's jersey with one day of the race to go.Gilbert said he appreciated the help from the BMC Racing Team's other six riders to stay in the  leader's red jersey he earned Friday by winning a smog-shortened stage that also finished going uphill.


"We did a great job as a team, first controlling the breakaway and then riding a steady tempo," he said. "The guys rode a nice speed – not too fast, just perfect."


When eventual stage winner Daniel Martin (Garmin-Sharp) attacked in the last 300 meters of the 157-kilometer race, Gilbert kept him in sight, finishing two seconds later, just behind runner-up Esteban Chaves (ORICA-GreenEDGE) and in front of Rui Costa (Lampre-Merida). With only a 117-km stage from Tiananmen Square to a circuit around the Olympic precinct remaining, Gilbert is three seconds ahead of Martin and nine seconds in front of Chaves.


"Three seconds is not much, but it is better to have an advantage than to be behind," the former world road champion said. "Let's cross our fingers that the race can go like normal tomorrow and that I can win the general classification.


“You never know, you can have a technical or something but I’m in a safe position I think."
Gilbert said he was looking forward to tomorrow’s final stage of the final edition of the Tour of Beijing, which starts from Tiananmen Square before 12 laps around the Bird’s Nest.
“That’s pretty special because I’m happy to be here,” the Belgian explained. “At the beginning I was thinking ‘I don’t want to go there, it’s a long trip and the season has been long and so on’. But now I’m there and I enjoy the race, it’s a nice country when the sky is clear. It’s a nice experience.”
Gilbert was particularly looking forward to the stage start opposite the Forbidden City.
“It’s great to have these roads closed for us,” he said. “It’s a big experience. It’s a little bit like riding on the Champs Elysees with the Tour [de France].”

In addition to the early pace-making by Yannick Eijssen, Martin Kohler and Rick Zabel to keep a four-man breakaway in check, the BMC Racing Team also relied upon Dominik Nerz and Tejay van Garderen to set a high tempo as the final climb began. The last turn at the front came in the last kilometer from Samuel Sánchez, who won his Olympic road race title in Beijing in 2008.


"Philippe told me he wanted me to set a high tempo," Sánchez said. "Today was all about working well as a team and helping Philippe."


Sánchez finished 14th on the day and is 13th overall.


"I am very thankful for what Samuel has done for me the whole season," Gilbert said. "He has been there for almost every win I have had this year."


BMC Racing Team Sport Director Max Sciandri agreed.


"Samuel was exceptional finishing it off and the team rode great," he said. "It really counts to come to China at the end of the year and have motivation and want to ride and take risks. It is something to say 'bravo' to the team."



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