Discuss: Can Gilbert Win Worlds?
As leader of the 9-rider Belgian National Team, can Philippe Gilbert overcome a sprinter’s parcours to win Sunday’s World Championship Road Race?
My experiences might easily fit many cycling fans' definitions of â€œliving the dream.â€ 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 â€“ 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, PavÃ©.
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You have written many times to never doubt an in-form/motivated Gilbert and I'm one to agree. I'd like to see him win, but I have a feel there's going to be an upset at this year's worlds.
And by upset, I mean Sagan or Kittel.
Gilbert is not one to be underestimated, but with a pancake-flat course, a long race, and lots of teams motivated to keeping it together for a sprint, he has a lot of factors to overcome. If he can have a few teammates in the trademark early and mid-race breaks, that will be to his advantage, but a lot of this depends on luck.
Shouldn't this discussion have been titled, "Can Gilbert lose Worlds?"
I see Worlds as being a dual of Belgium vs. Great Britain. Cav has the team to control the race, Belgium has the tools to make it hard enough for Gilbert. It will certainly be an interesting race to watch and could leave it open for a surprise winner to take the race by the throat a la Cadel.
…And Sean Kelly saying Cav is lacking the top form he needs to win just sounds like gamesmanship to me to throw the other teams off. Anyone who says the race is too long for him just needs to watch a certain edition of La Primavera.
The circuit doesn't look as sprinter-friendly as some are calling it – there's a youtube video out there. There are some little kickers, some tight corners, and the finishing rise is pretty steady. If the race is hard enough I think it could be the kind of sprint Gilbert can win.
Am I wrong to think that this might look a lot like last year. Gilbert and Evans and other puncheurs will really make it too hard for a coherent bunch sprint, but there will be enough of a group to preclude one of them from winning – unless they can make a late flyer stick.
Unless Pozzatto will help, then a select group might go.
And I suspect Thor would be keen to see things broken up, too. I reckon there are more racers interested in shattering the group rather than seeing a bunch sprint. Obviously, guys like Cav, Freire, Sagan, etc would prefer a sprint, but the puncheurs may have their way.
After watching the U23 finish, that definitely looks like an uphill sprint to me, so of course he can!
The course is certainly not "pancake flat." If Gilbert is still on any kind of form, I would certainly not put it past him. After the way he won the Belgian Championship, it would be foolish not to see him as a serious contender. We'll see. I can say this, I don't think Cav is going to win it.