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"We won Brabançonne and that was good because it confirmed that he was going well and Amstel somewhat took the pressure is off because we've got the Classic win that we set out to get," Peiper said.

Photo: Sirotti

AMSTEL GOLD RACE

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BRABANTSE PIJL

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FLECHE WALLONNE

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LIÈGE - BASTOGNE - LIÈGE

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PHILIPPE GILBERT

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SAMUEL SANCHEZ

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23.04.2014 @ 09:27 Posted by Aleksandra Górska

Victories at the Brabantse Pijl and Amstel Gold Race marked a long-awaited return of Philippe Gilbert, but despite praising a splendid disposition of the 31-year old Belgian, the BMC performance manager Allan Peiper emphasized that they have no interest in speculations about the possibility of repeating his unmatchable achievement from magnificent 2011 season.

 

Gilbert famously won all three Ardennes classics together with the build-up Brabantse Pijl during his splendid 2011 season, and will line up as one of the strongest contenders to take the spoils in the Flache Wallonne today following his emphatic, third victory claimed at the Amstel Gold Race last Sunday.

 

However, BMC performance manager Allan Peiper expects other contenders, more particularly the Katusha duo of Daniel Moreno and Joaquim Rodriguez as well as Movistar captain Alejandro Valverde, to be eager to take the revenge in the finale which suits their characteristics best.

 

"Katusha has a strong team for this race and it's more of a Spanish climber's climb but Phil is in fantastic shape. I wouldn't say he's the outstanding favourite but he's certainly a favourite. Katusha and Movistar really believe in their leaders and their chances, and rightly so."

 

Last year’s Fleche Wallonne winner Daniel Moreno will be Katusha leader after Rodriguez crashed out of the Amstel Gold Race three days ago, but the 34-year old Spaniard will line up at the start today to support his younger fellow countryman.

 

Peiper also pointed out that changed final part of the Fleche Wallonne route should make up for more dynamic and unpredictable race, with more possible contenders to step up at take the spoils in the second episode of the Ardennes triptych.

 

"It's a different race and the final has changed with two climbs of the Mur in the final 23 kilometres. It's going to really shake up the race. There will be less chance of controlling the race like we'd like and there are a lot of favourites who can win."

 

While BMC spearheaded by in-form Gilbert certainly will be the main favourite to dominate today’s event after their exceptional revival under the wings of a new performance manager, Peiper turned down speculations about the 31-year old Belgian aiming to repeat his achievement from 2011 season.

 

The BMC manager emphasized that the team is already satisfied with results obtained in Ardennes, as a victory in one of those races was their ultimate spring objective and a little bonus in the form of the Brabantse Pijl – La Flèche Brabançonne only confirmed that a new approach to classics build-up was a right decision.

 

"I don't think we're involved in that triple talk," Peiper told Cyclingnews from BMC's base just outside Liege.

 

"We won Brabançonne and that was good because it confirmed that he was going well and Amstel somewhat took the pressure is off because we've got the Classic win that we set out to get."

 

"That win is the bag but Phil still very much wants to win the next two races," Peiper said.

 

"If they fall into our hands then that's fantastic but the talk of the triple isn't something that we can focus on."

 

Peiper praised indeed almost faultless performance of the whole BMC team in the opening Ardennes event, pointing out specifically to Samuel Sanchez. The American outfit have thrown the former Euskaltel leader a lifeline and provided him with a chance to stay in the professional peloton on a very last occasion this February, but the 36-year old Spaniard has already repaid for the received chance being a valuable addition to the squad.

 

"The great thing in our favour is that we have Sanchez onboard. He's turned us from a great team into a super team. If you have a leader like Phil and then a back-up like Samuel, it can be almost perfect."

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