Questions for the Classics – Gilbert?

Fotoreporter Sirotti

As we get set to begin the Spring Classics with tomorrow’s running of the 102nd Milan-San Remo, it’s the perfect time examine some of the important questions facing the major riders and teams during this year’s spring campaign. As each question is posted, feel free to share your opinions, insights, and predictions as comments—your commentary and spirited dialogue is always appreciated.

6. Will Philippe Gilbert finally win a spring Monument?

He’s only 28, but it seems as if Gilbert’s been knocking on the door of a spring Monument victory (Milan-San Remo, the Tour of Flanders, or Liege-Bastogne-Liege) for several years now. Yes, he won the Amstel Gold Race last year, but to anyone watching it was clearly a consolation prize compared to Flanders and Liege. We know it’s not the cobbles that bother him—he has two wins in the Omloop—and we know his failure to win one is not caused by a lack of aggressiveness—he’s easily the most exciting rider in the peloton.

One knock against the talented Belgian might be his team. He’s lost Leif Hoste to Katusha, leaving Jurgen Roelandts to shoulder the load of being Gilbert’s lieutenant. Marcel Sieberg and Jussi Veikkanen will help in Flanders, as will Jurgen Van den Broeck and Jan Bakelants in the Ardennes. Still, it will be simple for other teams to key-in on Gilbert in his major targets. He’s not going to sneak up on anyone; if he wants to win Milan-San Remo, the Ronde, or Liege-Bastogne-Liege, he’ll just have to get the job done himself—making any potential win all the more spectacular.

Share your comments below.

About Whit

My experiences might easily fit many cycling fans' definitions of “living the dream.” Since getting hooked on the sport watching Lance Armstrong win the 1993 U.S. Pro Championship, I've raced as an amateur on Belgian cobbles, traveled Europe to help build a European pro team, and piloted that team from Malaysia to Mont Ventoux. As a former assistant director sportif with Mercury-Viatel, I've also seen the less dreamy side of the sport – the side rife with broken contracts, infighting, and positive dope tests. These days, I live with my lovely wife in Pennsylvania and share my experiences and views on the sport at Bicycling Magazine, the Embrocation Cycling Journal, and at my own site, Pavé.
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9 Responses to Questions for the Classics – Gilbert?

  1. Gadi says:

    Don't get it – why that fact concerning the weakness of the OFL team which is so apparent to all didn't cause them to form a stronger team around him – is it money related ?! , or what ?

    • Whit says:

      I think they went for more instant gratification with Greipel. Too bad as it might hurt Gilbert and VDB's chances in other races…

      W.

  2. cthulhu says:

    I see how Greipel might hurt VDB's chances, since that means at least three helpers less for him, but for Gilbert? Since Gilbert has always been a kind of joker who has more or less always been on his own. And he has the power and the wits to exploit the fact that the other teams have to work (often to reel him in again and not always successing). And for MSR having Greipel at his site might be a valuable asset to him. Because for the very likely case that no group of strong non-sprinters gets clear on the Poggio, his best chances are the late attack, or Cancellara Kilo as I read it being titled, and then a serious podium contender as a team mate could well help to delay a reaction of the bunch and secure the needed seconds/metres.
    As much as I'd love to see Gilbert winning (or Greipel) I fear it's not going to happen. But one of them could prove me wrong.

  3. big jonny says:

    I expect to see a big win out of Gilbert this spring. I'm not sure which it will be, but he's been building and building over the last few years. I think he's got the head and the legs to do it. We'll see, of course. But I'm excited for his chances to nail one.

  4. Scott M says:

    Gotta love Gilbert..aggressive as hell, exciting to watch, and capable of blowing a race apart. He is on top form and I would love to see him take a big V sometime this spring…Flanders perhaps? But please, someone tell him to lose that dang earring…sheesh..it reeks of early 90's and definitely hurts his aero capacity on the flats…

  5. I'd like to think that he is capable of winning Flanders or Roubaix but both of those races are dependent on several top level team mates, and that is Omega Pharma's weak link.
    VDB is an option, but to me he is 'flaky' and inconsistent.
    If Gilbert wins, its likely to be from profiteering off the other big hitters, ie Hushovd, Boonen Cancellara, all of whom have several top level team riders capable of being in the final selection.

    .

  6. michael says:

    Favourite rider in the peleton other than Evans, Voeckler and Inglinsky. He's got the horses for a multiple-win spring. I don't think MSR is in the cards though, too many race incidents with members of the sprinters teams would have to happen in order for him to break and stay away. The finishing climbs just are not steep enough and the run in to the finish is too fast for him to stay away. Flanders is right up his alley however, though with Cancellara and Boonen no doubt on massive form for that event he may end up shut out going into L-B-L. Can he make it happen with the proverbial eggs all in one basket? He has the class and the engine, but he will be so tightly marked that it will be very difficult for him to get away. I don't know if he can pull off the big win(s), but it will sure be interesting to watch him try!

  7. gilbert says:

    he just won a monument, twice, giro di lombardia….
    I expect him on the ronde and the l-b-l

    • Whit says:

      You're right, Gilbert, but we're talking about the Spring Classics–he hasn't won won of those monuments.

      Thanks for your comment and the great info in the Feed Zone! Hope to see you again next weekend!

      W.

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