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“I’m not down. In fact, I am optimistic for Liège. It’s a real classic, 260 kilometers. It’s good that we have four days of rest to recover and to be ready to win Liège,” Philippe Gilbert said.

Photo: Sirotti

FLECHE WALLONNE

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LIÈGE - BASTOGNE - LIÈGE

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PHILIPPE GILBERT

RIDER PROFILE
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NEWS
25.04.2014 @ 18:27 Posted by Aleksandra Górska

Philippe Gilbert’s victories in the Brabantse Pijl and Amstel Gold Race immediately triggered hot speculations on the possibility of repeating the spectacular achievement from 2011 season by the 31-year old Belgian. The discussion, which both the BMC team and a rider himself refused to be involved in, was cut, however, following his off day at the Fleche Wallonne, but the former World Champion remains optimistic ahead of the oldest monument of cycling calendar, Liege-Bastogne-Liege.

 

Gilbert claims that his weaker performance at the Fleche Wallonne on Wednesday, resulted with 10th place at the top of the brutally steep Mur de Huy, paradoxically would work in his favor as it expect it to take the pressure off and become observed less attentively by main contenders to take the spoils in la Doyenne.

 

“The fact that I was a little behind in the Flèche Wallonne will help me to win Liège-Bastogne-Liège,” Gilbert said after Wednesday’s race. “My opponents might think I’m not as good, which would’ve been a different story had I placed on the podium in Flèche.”

 

The 31-year old Belgian won all three Ardennes classics together with the preceding Brabantse Pijl during his magnificent 2011 season, but despite claiming victories in two opening hilly races this spring, BMC captain didn’t leave the impression of being equally unbeatable and his below-par performance at the Fleche Wallonne confirmed such assessment.

  

“At the Amstel Gold Race, Gilbert was unbeatable,” Valverde said. “But in the Flèche Wallonne, that wasn’t the case.”

 

It is not a big secret that finale on the Mur de Huy suits more explosive Spanish climbers in the likes of Alejandro Valverde (Movistar) or Daniel Moreno (Katusha) than the Belgian classics specialist, but Gilbert pointed out to several other factors responsible for his disappointing showing on Wednesday, including lack of strength, bad positioning and wind.

 

“I thought we’d be a small group of 20,” he said. “I was too far back at the bottom of the Mur de Huy. When it’s like that, it’s hard to move up on the climb itself. You just have to wait until everyone is behind each other and then you can move up. I did that. I moved up six positions, but I couldn’t do any more.”

 

“Philippe didn’t have the legs that he had Sunday and he didn’t have a good position for the Mur,” BMC sport director Valerio Piva said.

 

“Tenth place was the maximum we could do.”

 

Still, the 31-year old BMC captain remains optimistic ahead of the jubilee 100th edition of the Liege-Bastogne-Liege, insisting that the 263 kilometer long route of the cycling’s oldest monument suits him down to the ground and he aims to claim his second victory in one of his very favorite races.

 

“My legs were good, so that’s not a problem. It’s just a fact that the finishing climb up the Mur in the Flèche Wallonne suits me less than than the Cauberg in Amstel or Liège-Bastogne-Liège,” Gilbert said.

 

“I’m not down. In fact, I am optimistic for Liège. It’s a real classic, 260 kilometers. It’s good that we have four days of rest to recover and to be ready to win Liège.”

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