While watching the video of Philippe Gilbert methodically dispatching of Bjorn Leukemans to win Wednesdayâ€™s Brabantse Pijl, a thought occurred to me: is Gilbert about to become the Ardennes equivalent of Fabian Cancellara?
In other words, has the Belgian displayed such superior form that it will be impossible for him to avoid the stalemate-inducing, check-down tactics (at least among the favorites) that effectively prevented Cancellara from winning Flanders and Roubaix?
Consider the evidence, with a win in the E3 Prijs that left little room for doubting his fitness, Fabian Cancellara cemented himself at the top of every other teamâ€™s hit list. He would get no favors from in Flanders and Roubaix, even if it meantâ€”in the case of teams such as Quick-Stepâ€”cutting-off oneâ€™s nose to spite oneâ€™s face.
Now Gilbertâ€”already one of the best riders in the worldâ€”has won the final Amstel-Ardennes warm-up seemingly with one hand tied behind has back. He most certainly heads to the Amstel Gold Race (a race he won last year) as the top favorite to repeat his win, but now will bear the burdenâ€”along with his teamâ€”of controlling the race from the outset.
Luckily, Gilbertâ€™s style is the complete anti-thesis to Cancellaraâ€™sâ€”he attacks relentlessly, and demeanor that ultimately force his rivals to put up or shut-up as itâ€™s hard to mark a rider out of a race when you canâ€™t follow his accelerations. But the question is still worth asking: before the races have even started, has Gilbert already lost?
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