Archive for the ‘Omega Pharma – Lotto | archives’ Category

A dress rehearsal before the grand opening…

Friday, July 1st, 2011

It’ll be my seventh Tour de France this year. That’s something I am really proud of. This event is the highlight of any season in pro cycling. Therefore the demands we place on ourselves and those from outside are all the more intense. From the point of view of the media the Tour is still one of the biggest 3 sporting events there is and it attracts millions of TV viewers, but also spectators on the route. It’s a mega show we are taking part in that has a different script every year

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In this event neither the team managers nor the sporting directors or riders leave anything to chance. Everything is thought out and planned well in advance and we also have the best equipment available to us. Every year technical innovations appear which are designed to be just 0,005 kilometres per hour faster than the competition.

The stage routes are also looked at closely during the preparation phase. Jurgen Van den Broeck, for example, rode the mountain stages in the Pyrenees and the Alps for training in order to get a better impression of what to expect. Meticulous preparation for every eventuality is an important key to success. How well do you know the route? How well do you know your rivals? How do you make the best possible use of your own team? This is the reason why we and so many other teams spent three entire days checking out the routes of Saturday’s and Sunday’s stage.

Today, Friday 1st July was a kind of dress rehearsal for the first stage. As a team we rode the final few kilometres of the opening stage and discussed at length tactics and what would be the best line to take in a sprint finish. Every rider now knows the challenges and dangers we’ll be faced with tomorrow. It’s a finish that will be well suited to our Belgian champion Philippe Gilbert. However, it’s necessary to point out right from the outset that the competition on the ‘big loop’ is extremely tough and as we all know, despite the great preparation when the real thing actually starts things can always go wrong. We are therefore awaiting the start with both great excitement and inner uneasiness.

Whilst our top sprinter André Greipel will be ridng his first Tour de France, Jens Vogt is heading for his 14th start in the event. Despite the great difference between the two riders, both will be just as excited and nervous about the start. Exactly the same applies to the other 196 riders starting this year’s Tour de France – myself included……

Vive le Tour
Seb

Instead of ice-cream and Jacuzzi – riding through France on my bicycle…

Thursday, June 30th, 2011

Rough tarmac, dangerous rides through villages, long and steep climbs, heat and rain, wind and 198 bike pros with just one vision. The riders taking part in this year’s event will be motivated up to their teeth when on Saturday 2.7.2011, the first 191 km stage gets underway. It will be quite a different Tour this year; a far more edgy and unpredictable affair and also very exciting.

I was somewhat pensive and sad when I left my home behind. It was wonderful in my adopted second home Erfurt over the last few days. Deep down inside, however, I will always remain a true son of Sonneberg. I just had to say that because these mixed feelings have a variety of causes. On the one hand there is the enforced and renewed lengthy separation from my nearest and dearest, and on the other hand the uncertainty of how I’m going to cope with the coming few weeks, because in contrast to last year, where I didn’t ride any events after the Giro d’Italia and started the Tour de France 2010 as fresh as a daisy, this year I’ll have 8 days of racing in my legs by the time the big loop in France gets underway.

There are also the worries about how the future of the team is going to pan out and indeed my own future! I came to the Tour with a thousand questions and won’t be able to answer all of them. As far as the future is concerned, I am more relaxed than nervous. I and my teammates are now waiting excitedly for Saturday and that we are once again in the thick of the action. Even at today’s training session it was noticeable that everyone was a little jumpy. This is because everyone places great expectations upon himself and doesn’t know if he can live up to them. Before the race one is in a physical state that resembles discomfort. It’s therefore better if these days are few and far between. It is not a time of total relaxation, but rather a phase in which one focuses on one’s aims and ambitions.

Our team is very strong and all nine of us will be doing our very best to make a real impact on the Tour de France. Because you never know, it could be the last Tour de France for us. I am looking forward to writing reports and articles again during this year’s event and if there is the possibility, then you’ll all get something really brilliant on Canyon’s Facebook page.

All the best,
Seb

Philippe Gilbert is Belgian champion – André Greipel jumps too late

Monday, June 27th, 2011

Philippe Gilbert is not just in form in the spring but also in summer! Gilbert got the better of the rest of his countrymen on an 18-lap 13.4 km circuit and can now wear the coveted Belgian champion’s jersey. The only difficult part of the predominantly flat course was the Gitsberg climb, which however according to the opinion of many experts would not be hard enough to prevent a bunch sprint.

The multiple runner-up and top favourite for 2011 pulled out all the stops in order to net the national championship this time around. At around the half way mark a top-class leading group consisting of Gilbert, defending champion Stijn Devolder and Tom Boonen came together. Omega Pharma-Lotto kept the pace high and prevented any further breakaway attempts from the leading group. In the closing stages of the race perhaps the riders felt a sense of déjà-vu as Gilbert waited until the final climb of the race before launching his attack and leaving his rivals in his wake. Tom Boonen was able to go with the pace for a little while before having to finally let fast Phil pull away. Gilbert crossed the finish line 2 seconds up on Gianni Meersman and Jelle Wallays.

RADSPORT / BELGIEN STRASSE ELITE / 26.06.2011 / ROTH

It didn’t quite go according to plan for Hürth born André Greipel. At the German national championships in Neuwied (not far from Canyon.Home) everything, including the course, made a bunch sprint likely in which André Greipel had a great chance of victory. Greipel’s teammates and the riders from HTC with their team captain John Degenkolb all stepped up the pace in order to set up a bunch sprint. However, on the finishing straight it was neither Greipel nor Degenkolb who seized victory. The rank outsider Robert Wagner snatched the title ahead of Gerald Ciolek and John Degenkolb. André Greipel was extremely disappointed with his fourth place finish and wants to make amends and show what he’s capable of when the Tour de France starts this coming Saturday.

Fast Phil victorious once again

Monday, June 20th, 2011

After a win at the Ster ZLM-Tour Philippe Gilbert has shown that he has found his peak in form again for the Tour de France after all the stresses of the spring classics season. The most successful pro of the current season and also leader of the world ranking was again able to secure a place memorable victory by winning the 4th stage of the 5-day stage race. Despite an 18 second deficit following the prologue Philippe was able get the better of his rivals with the outstanding performance on stage 4. He opened up a narrow lead of 1 second on Niki Terpstra and took the yellow jersey from previous leader, the German Patrick Gretsch.

RADSPORT / STER ZLM TOER 4. ET. / 18.06.2011 / ROTH

It looked like being a finale identical to 2009 between Gilbert and Terpstra, where the duo went into the final stage on the same time and Philippe then snatched first place from the Quick-Step rider right at the end thanks to a time bonus. In 2011 the tables were turned and it was Gilbert who went into the final stage as race leader and had to defend his lead. However his main rival from 2009 was just 1 second back in second place and well within striking distance and could still easily topple Gilbert’s lead by winning a time bonus. At the outset everything went positively for the Omega Pharma-Lotto pro. A 4 strong leading group broke away; however this group did not contain Niki Terpstra. These four riders fought out the first hot spot sprint of the day among themselves. When the 4 riders were caught, the race for the yellow jersey began again. The next hot spot sprint for bonus points was at the 160 km mark. Terpstra took 3rd place in the sprint allowing him to catch up the 1 second deficit to Gilbert, but it was the Belgian who snatched 1st place in that very same sprint, enabling him to extend his lead even further. All resistance now appeared to have been broken and it was the sprinters who decided the sprint finish amongst themselves. This did not have any impact on the overall outcome of the race.

RADSPORT / STER ZLM TOER 4. ET. / 18.06.2011 / ROTH

The Tour de France starts in around 2 weeks and not only Gilbert, but also his teammate Jurgen Van den Broeck, are in scintillating form and it is quite possible that one of them could achieve the first victory on a Canyon at the big loop. However, Hürth born André Greipel has been training hard and is looking forward to his first participation in the Tour de France. In last week’s Tour of Switzerland Andre didn’t really get into his stride, but here there was no sprint finish of any real note and there was simply nothing doing for the man commonly known as the “Gorilla”.

Successful dress rehearsal for the Tour de France

Tuesday, June 14th, 2011

The Omega Pharma-Lotto captain Jurgen Van den Broeck gained some crucial self-confidence for the approaching month of July thanks to his first pro victory. In July he would like to build on the superb performance he produced in the Tour de France in 2010. The current Belgian number 1 demonstrated his form on French soil at the 8-stage Critérium du Dauphiné as the riders got the chance to get their first taste of what it will be like on the “big loop” because the individual time-trial on stage 3 follows an identical route to the race against the watch in July. The four mountain top finishes, however, also made it a race for climbers like Jurgen Van den Broeck.

RADSPORT/ CRITERIUM DAUPHINE 1. ETAPPE / 06.06.2011 / ROTH

After the prologue of 5.4 km the Dutchman Lars Boom was in first place, 14 seconds up on the 28 year old Omega Pharma-Lotto captain. However, even the first stage contained the first mountain top finish of the event and dramatically reshuffled the general classification. After two second category climbs and one third category climb, the stage finished at the top of the second category climb in the mountain village Saint-Pierre-de-Chartreuse at an altitude of 884m. The first breakaway of the day contained Canyon rider Sven Vandousselaere, but it was reeled in at the 10 kilometre mark. On the subsequent 7.4 kilometre climb the race favourites faced their first stiff test. Jurgen Van den Broeck and Thomas Voeckler attempted to close the gap to HTC-Highroad rider Kanstantin Sivtsov but couldn’t escape. When Sivtsov was swallowed up by the main field Thomas Voeckler jumped again and only Jurgen Van den Broeck was able to follow him. However, it was to be the final attack of the day which the spectators were to see from the Frenchman. Voeckler was not able to go with Jurgen Van den Broeck’s counter-attack and the Belgian then went on to win his first pro race in style and in a field containing world class riders. In the overall classification Van den Broeck was now in second place 11 seconds down on the new race leader Alexandre Vinokourov.

RADSPORT/ CRITERIUM DAUPHINE 1. ETAPPE / 06.06.2011 / ROTH

In the 42 km individual time-trial in and around Grenoble Tony Martin showed that he is one of the best time-trialists in the world. His time of 55.27 was the fastest time of the day by a comfortable margin. Jurgen Van den Broeck didn’t have the best of days and finished back in 17th place some 2.39 minutes down on Martin, however he was able to make up time on the upcoming mountain top finishes. Apart from stage 4, which was reserved for the sprinters, Jurgen Van den Broeck was consistently among the best riders at the finish line and also finished in the top ten riders on each of the final three stages, enabling him to consolidate a very creditable 4th place in the final overall classification. Jurgen now wants to further improve his already scintillating form before the start of the Tour and is pulling out all the stops to ensure that he, Philippe Gilbert and Andre Greipel all make their mark on this year’s Tour de France.

Greipel wins 2 stages and Gilbert wins the general classification of the Tour of Belgium

Monday, May 30th, 2011

Philippe Gilbert won the 5-day Tour of Belgium and basked in the celebrations at the finish alongside his teammate André Greipel, who was able to scoop two stage victories and confirm his good form just two months before the Tour de France. Omega Pharma-Lotto’s dominance during this stage race could simply not be overlooked because in addition to Hürth born Greipel’s two stage victories, Philippe Gilbert won the Queen’s stage. Therefore three of the five stages were won by riders on a Canyon.

Even at the opening time-trial the pros from Omega Pharma-Lotto demonstrated that they were in blistering form. Six riders from the team finished in the top 21. Philippe Gilbert (second place, 1 second down), Jens Debusschere (sixth place, seven seconds down), André Greipel (ninth place, nine seconds down), Marcel Sieberg (14th place, ten seconds down), David Boucher (20th place, 14 seconds down), Jurgen Roelandts (21st place, 14 seconds down). In addition, the team had optimum support from Kenny De Haes and Frederik Willems.

On stage 2 a rider from the Omega Pharma-Lotto team took the overall leader’s jersey. André Greipel won on the 160 km stage from Lochristi to Knokke-Heist in a sprint finish ahead of Kenny Van Hummel and took the overall lead thanks to the time bonus. Philippe Gilbert also finished in the same time as Greipel and kept within striking distance of what was to be his later triumph. After day two André Greipel led ahead of his teammate Philippe Gilbert in the overall classification by a narrow margin of just two seconds.

The victory in the subsequent stage went to Aidis Kruopis, who was able to move up to 15th place in the overall standings although he was not able to make an impact on the general classification. However the public’s s darling Philippe Gilbert snatched a 3-second time bonus on the Kemmelberg, meaning that he had moved ahead of André Greipel to take the overall lead.

Philippe made clear that he wanted to defend his lead until the end of the race on the Queen’s stage. Stage four from Bertem to Eupen had a similar route profile to the spring classics in which “Fast Phil” had already demonstrated his strengths. In the uphill sprint finish he got the better of Greg van Avermaet and Björn Leukemans. Gilbert then had a 19-second lead allowing him to take it easy on the final flat stage.

At the end it was once again André Greipel who polished off the convincing overall performance of the Omega Pharma-Lotto team. In the sprint finish of the final stage he overcame Aidis Fruopis making it the third stage victory for Omega Pharma-Lotto in the Tour of Belgium 2011. As well as victory in the general classification Gilbert also finished joint top of the points competition alongside teammate André Greipel.

RADSPORT/ BELGIEN-RUNDFAHRT 4. ETAPPE / 29.05.2011 / ROTH

Breakaway Bakelants Still Riding Well Giro d’Italia

Friday, May 27th, 2011

Omega Pharma-Lotto’s young Giro d’Italia leader Jan Bakelants was 4th in Stage 17 of the Giro d’Italia in Tirano but was disappointed because he didn’t win. Jan told a website “After already spending 200 kilometers in a break on the Zoncolan stage, I was tired.” Bakelants tried to stay in contact with Ulissi, Lastras and Visconti in the finale, but didn’t have the legs.
“I knew that the break was going to stay away. Of course you always want to win a race. My legs were very tired from the weekend, what else could I have tried?”, Bakelants said in Tirano.

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fter the stage, Bakelants moved up again on gc to 24th, 33’28″ behind Maglia Rosa Contador. On Stage 18, a fast 151km race from Morbegno to San Pellegrino Terme, breakaway Bakelants made the breakaway of the day again, finishing 10th on the stage and moving up to 23rd on gc and still leads the Giro d’Italia intermediate sprint competition with 26 points.

A Conversation With Fast Phil – current #1 in UCI rankings

Monday, May 23rd, 2011

After his four consecutive wins in April in major classics, Omega Pharma-Lotto’s Philippe Gilbert is currently the #1 ranked rider in the UCI World Tour classification. Fast Phil’s chosen weapon is an Omega Pharma-Lotto team issue Canyon Aeroad CF 9.0 bicycle. After a well earned break from competition, Phil will be back in competition at the Tour of Belgium in late June. Canyon recently chatted with Gilbert at his home in Monaco.

Canyon: Michael Rich brought you a new Aeroad CF frame before Liège-Bastogne-Liège with a special paint job. How do you like it?
Philippe Gilbert: Yeah I really like it; I like the way Canyon comes up with something special for me. I want something different than like the Italians do, with an animal or something. I’m not Italian so that wouldn’t work. So I thought “Fast Phil” was a good way to go.

Canyon: Well you are a pretty fast rider…
Philippe Gilbert: [Laughs] Sure so it’s not too bad to have “Fast Phil” on my bike.

Canyon: You didn’t want a gorilla on your bike like your teammate André Greipel?
Philippe Gilbert: No not at all.

Canyon: Phil, I believe you have been riding the Canyon Aeroad CF 9.0 Team since last year’s Tour of Belgium…that’s your bicycle of choice. How come?
Philippe Gilbert: I am very particular about my bicycle and I have found that the Aeroad CF is the best bicycle for me. I worked with Canyon and gave them feedback on how the bike should be. We worked together and I am quite satisfied. It’s important that the Aeroad is rigid and has aerodynamic qualities. I like the design, too; it gives me motivation to ride a bike like that.

Canyon: After you have finished your spring racing campaign with those four wins, what is the rest of your program for 2011?
Philippe Gilbert: Well I had a very, very good classics season and then took a break from racing as I already planned. It’s a long season, but so far the timing for my program has been perfect since I started training last December.

Canyon: Do you consider Liège-Bastogne-Liège or Flèche Wallonne your home race?
Philippe Gilbert: Well even the Amstel Gold Race is close to where I lived in Belgium [Gilbert now resides in Monaco] and I know all of the roads for these races very well. I also know the Giro di Lombardia and Tour of Flanders well. As riders we have to learn the courses well. Maybe I know Liège a little better but we know all the races.

Canyon: Just curious, Phil, but what were you thinking about when you passed the finish line first in the race of your dreams, Liège-Bastogne-Liège? What was it like?
Philippe Gilbert: It was magnificent feeling for me, a dream come true. You know it’s rare in life you get to realize a dream. So it was very special for me.

Canyon: After your win in Liège, you went back to your hometown, Remouchamps on the La Redoute climb for your supporters’ club party. Did you have a good time there?
Philippe Gilbert: Oh yes, there were a lot of people at the party, my friends and family so it was a great time. Magnificent… really big.

Canyon: Many noticed you brought your six month old son Alan up on the podium with you at Amstel Gold.
Philippe Gilbert: I brought him on the podium at Amstel and Liège. I wanted to share the moment with him and even if he didn’t know what was going on it will certainly be a good memory for him when he gets older.

Canyon: Phil what are your objectives for the rest of the 2011 season?
Philippe Gilbert: For me, all the races are important. I race to win; I am not going to the Tour de France to go for the classement général as I have not prepared for this. But my goal at the Tour is to win at least one stage and maybe more.

Canyon: Have you studied the course of the Tour de France for which stages look interesting?
Philippe Gilbert: Yes, perhaps Stage Three is interesting and some others… I am thinking about.

Canyon: Phil, after the Tour what is your race program? Is it too soon to say if you will do the Vuelta a España, where you won two stages and led the race for a while in 2010?
Philippe Gilbert: It’s really too soon to say now. I will decide what to do for the end of the season after the Tour.

Canyon: What about the World Championships in Copenhagen? Many people saw the coverage of the pre-ride you did of the course with Tom Boonen.
Philippe Gilbert: It’s not bad. It’s a course for the sprinters but it’s not bad.

Canyon: Phil, you have won the Giro di Lombardia twice, Amstel Gold Race twice and now Liège-Bastogne-Liège. That leaves the Tour of Flanders, Paris-Roubaix and Milano-Sanremo. Is it a goal for you in the future to win all the one day monuments of cycling?
Philippe Gilbert: Yes that is a goal for me without a doubt.

Canyon: Which is the hardest one to win?
Philippe Gilbert: Sanremo. Any rider can win Sanremo so that makes it hard to win. It’s actually an easy race that even lesser riders can win with luck.

Canyon: At 29 years of age, some observers wonder if Phil Gilbert isn’t on the same path as your fellow Belgian great Eddy Merckx, headed towards becoming a Grand Tour rider.
Philippe Gilbert: Sure why not? I have the time to work towards that in the future. I want to continue to win the classic races but then look towards becoming a Grand Tour rider.

Canyon: How many more years do you see yourself as a bike racer, Phil?
Philippe Gilbert: Oh for a while…probably until I don’t feel it anymore, when it gets too hard.

A preliminary summary from the Giro d’Italia 2011

Monday, May 16th, 2011

Today is first rest day in this year’s Giro d’Italia and therefore an appropriate time to give a preliminary summary of the race so far. We have now had 9 eventful stages. After the opening team time-trial there were, as is often the case, several flat stages on the tour route. Even on the first day the Omega Pharma-Lotto team surprised its rivals by finishing 4th in the 19.3 km team time-trial. The riders gave everything on their Speedmax CF bikes and the intensive training they had put in before the Giro certainly paid off.

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The team also continued in the same way. Just one day later Sebastian Lang showed that he really meant business in this year’s Giro by attacking and going on a 200 km breakaway, at one point having a lead of 20 minutes. However, the other teams then took up the chase and swallowed up Seb before the finish. But the tactics of the team had paid off because on the next stage Sebastian was once again able to wear the green jersey of best climber.

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The events of the next stage were to overshadow the sport, with the Belgian Wouter Weylandt crashing to his death. It was not possible to precisely reconstruct how the accident happened, however other riders in the peloton reported how the young Belgian got his pedal jammed in a stone wall and struck the ground after 20 meter fall. It was unfortunately not possible to save his life. The entire Canyon team and cycling world has been deeply shocked by this tragic incident and our thoughts go out to his friends and family. The organizers and riders all decided that the Giiro should continue and that the 4th stage should be neutralized. Weylandt’s start number (108) will never be used again at the Giro d’Italia.

From the point of view of Omega Pharma-Lotto stage 7 was a further highlight with the first mountain top finish. Bart de Clercq, the 24 year-old new pro was able to win his first race in a photo-finish. Bart was able to break away from the main field on the final climb, which had an average gradient of 5%, and open up a 30 second gap. With just a few hundred meters to go until the finish the leader had the riders from behind breathing down his neck, but still managed to stay away on his last reserves of strength.

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Up until this point the main men in the field had been quiet, but on stage 8 Alberto Contador showed what he’s made of finishing second on the stage. On yesterday’s stage the riders rode over Mount Etna twice and team tactics went out of the window then. One day before the first rest day the stage race specialists and climbers really got down to business for the first time in this year’s event. Above all it was Alberto Contador who demonstrated his strength. At the finish he was 3 seconds up on second placed José Rujano Guillen and even 50 seconds on the first chasing group, which contained Vincenzo Nibali, Roman Kreuziger and Stefano Garzelli. The stage victory gave Contador the leader’s red jersey and he is now almost a minute ahead of Konstantin Sistrov.

The coming week begins comparatively quietly before three difficult days in the mountains on Friday, Saturday and Sunday (Großglockner, Monte Zoncolan, Gardeccia).

Philippe Gilbert – THE superstar of the Omega Pharma-Lotto team

Friday, May 13th, 2011

He is Belgian Sports Personality of the year, Belgian Cyclist of the Year and has won the Kristallen Fiets in three consecutive years – Philippe Gilbert is an absolute superstar in his native Belgium. He has also ridden his way into the hearts of fans outside Belgium and enjoys recognition from both cycling fans and the riders in the peloton. In the 2011 season he is by far the most successful rider in the spring classics.

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True to the spirit of saving the best for last Gilbert has consistently improved his form and peaked just at the right time. He began memorizing the route of the Tour of Flanders very early on, trained on his home turf for Liege-Bastogne-Liege and deliberately did not take part in the “Queen of the classics”? When he was asked why he hadn’t taken part in the hell of the north, where it is often crashes that decide the outcome of the race, he said, “Paris-Roubaix is a race that can put an end to your career”.

Strengthened by set-backs

Phil overcomes set-backs very well and he appears to emerge from them even stronger. One of his main aims in 2010 was the world championships in Geelong. Everything was set up for a victory. His form was perfect and he was by far the strongest rider in the entire race but only managed 18th place after his 6th place finish in 2009. What went wrong? On the penultimate climb he threw all his eggs into one basket and attacked but his efforts were thwarted by the strong headwind and he was unable to drop the peloton, which had been cut to pieces by the extremely tough race. At the finish line it was Thor Hushovd who became world champion. However, just one week later Philippe again found his peak form, firstly defending his title at the Tour of Piedmont and later at the Tour of Lombardy.

With the disappointment of missing out on the world title still on his mind, he used the winter to do some intensive preparation and to impressive effect as we have now seen.

A decision straight from the heart – Philippe returns to his native Belgium

Philippe learned his trade as a racing cyclist with La Française des Jeux. In 2002, when he was a Stagiaire (trainee), he made it right to the top of the podium on four occasions. Therefore it was a mere formality that he was offered a pro contract, thereby integrating him into the team on a long-term basis. In the subsequent years he worked diligently on his form focusing on the classics. With several victories in less prestigious events he underscored his potential time and time again and took part in his first major stage race in 2004. At the Giro d’Italia he rode for his captain Bradley McGee, who finished 8th in the overall classification. In the subsequent four years the team insisted that Gilbert start the Tour de France although this was something which the Walloon was not 100% keen on even back then, because he would have preferred to concentrate on the classics and gain important victories in them.

Therefore the only noteworthy win at the spring classics between 2003 and 2007 in his list of victories was at the Omloop Het Nieuwsblad in 2006. It was in 2008 that he made it onto the podium in one of the monuments of cycling, even though it was not in his native Belgium but at Milan-San-Remo, the so-called “race to the sun”. Three weeks prior to that he had triumphed for the second time at Omloop Het Nieuwsblad. He then began to wonder whether La Française des Jeux really was the right team for him. It was above all the future prospect of riding as captain of a Belgian team at the classics that made him decide to join Silence-Lotto. “I didn’t decide in favour of the most lucrative offer. Six pro teams wanted to sign me. I looked carefully at all the offers on the table”, said Phil after he decided in favour of the team from his native Belgium. Marc Sergeant, his new Team Manager said even back then, “We really do want him. He is one of the best riders in the world”. Philippe has certainly paid back the trust put in him back then with some extraordinary performances.

Not just a lottery but a major success story – Gilbert’s time with Silence-Lotto und Omega Pharma-Lotto

Now riding Canyon bikes Phil really picked up momentum. In the spring he made it onto the podium at the Tour of Flanders and demonstrated his strength in his Wallonian homeland at the Amstel Gold Race and Liege-Bastogne-Liege, finishing 4th in both events. His victory in the penultimate stage of the Giro d’Italia in May wasn’t just his first win a major stage race, but also hoisted Canyon onto the podium of a major tour for the very first time.

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However, that was only the first part of his planning for the season. In consultation with the team managers from Silence-Lotto he did not take part in the Tour de France and left the world’s greatest stage race to other key men. Phil then concentrated on the latter part of the season in autumn. It was to be a golden October for him with four victories in just nine days! He claimed the Coppa Sabatini, Paris-Tours, the Tour of Piedmont and finally the Tour of Lombardy. Philippe Gilbert had now won his first monument of cycling and was hungry for more.

When in 2010 the first whisperings from the critics came that Phil was perhaps not capable of winning a big spring classic, he answered these doubts in no uncertain terms. Although the team had to wait a long time for the first win of the season, it was one of the most important of the last few years for Gilbert and the team. The Walloon triumphed at the Amstel Gold Race! However, in that season a further highlight was planned. Philippe had his eyes on the world championship, which he missed out on although he was the strongest rider in the field. In spite of this set-back he was still able to repeat his victory in both the Tour of Lombardy and the Tour of Piedmont. Prior to that he was able to win two stages of the Vuelta seemingly in passing and even wore the leader’s red jersey on five occasions. At the end of that event he moved up to third place in the UCI-Ranking!

This season he has started where he left off last season, namely with outstanding victories and a style of riding that is impossible to match. With his 3rd place finish in Milan-San-Remo he was not quite able to achieve his main goal, but once again made it onto the podium after 2008, although his joy was restrained as he would have preferred to have been in top spot. However the spring was not yet over and he consistently improved his form. Although he only managed to finish 9th in the Tour of Flanders, his focus was clearly on the Wallonian classics. Even before the key week he secured victory in the Brabant Arrow. He then impressively defended his title at the Amstel Gold Race, and was then victorious at Flèche Wallonne and Liege-Bastogne-Liege. It was plain for all to see just how much he enjoyed celebrating the victory at Liege-Bastogne-Liege in front of his home fans. His fiercest rivals Andy and Frank Schleck were full of praise for Philippe at the end of the race saying, “There was just no stopping Gilbert at the finish. He was simply too strong for us”.

An all-rounder who can win on all types of course

There is no specific type of course which seems to suit Phil best. The long distance classics are of course his forte, but he is equally capable of competing in rather flat events such as Milan-San-Remo as well as events like Flèche Wallonne, which finishes on a climb. Before Flèche Wallonne Phil said that the Wall of Huy would be too tough for him, however it was here that he dropped his rivals and proved that he can hold his own on the climbs too. For Gilbert it is important that the race is made really tough because in a bunch sprint he is not quite fast enough to be in the mix with the top sprinters. However, if he is able to drop the out-and-out sprinters before the finish, he is more than capable of winning both alone and from a small breakaway group. When asked about the 2011 world championship course in Copenhagen, Phil commented that it wasn’t hard enough for him…