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The great equal of Philippe Gilbert

It seemed a daring gamble when he was a few years ago his familiar habitat is left. But with his victory in Paris-Roubaix belongs to Philippe Gilbert now finally to the most complete classic riders from the cycling history.

The great equal of Philippe Gilbert

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Of the five major classical monuments missing only Milan-san remo on the roll of honour of Philippe Gilbert. Dario Belingheri/photo news

It seemed a daring gamble when he was a few years ago his familiar habitat is left. But with his victory in Paris-Roubaix belongs to Philippe Gilbert now finally to the most complete classic riders from the cycling history.

The great equal of Philippe Gilbert

Cycling

Benedict Vanclooster

Roubaix Philippe Gilbert burst into tears when he after the finish line into the arms fell of team manager Patrick Lefevere. The hardened warrior had in more than sixteen profseizoenen all experienced, but with his 76th victory in a UCI-profwedstrijd he betrayed unexplored emotions.

“It is me yet not so often happened that I had to cry after a win,” commented the winner. “My most major victories, I’m after a solo. Then you are prepared and you will win. After a sprint is the emotion is very different, with an explosion of joy. I realized what a good decision my choice for the team of Patrick Lefevere.’

Gilbert saw in his victory, the 700ste in the history of Quick Step, not only the revenge for his disappointing Tour of Flanders, but also, and especially, the evidence of his great equal. When he was in the winter of 2016-2017 and announced that he his career on a different bow wanted to throw, fronsten quite a few observers the eyebrows. The Belgian was 34 and seemingly in the twilight of his career arrived. Gilbert would be the focus to shift from the Ardennes to the kasseiklassiekers. “It was a big gamble,” said Gilbert yesterday. “It was even a bit crazy, but I knew I had all the chances on my side would get if I for the best classic team in the world chose.’

New challenges

‘Taking on new challenges is what
motivates me,
as a rider, and
in the life’

Philippe Gilbert

Gilbert stood in his pro career, which dates back to 2003, already more than fifty times at the start of a classical monument. Yet it was only yesterday, his third participation in Paris-Roubaix. On his 24th, in 2007, if he already tests of the Helletocht, but in a foreign edition, with Stuart O’grady as the surprising winner was wrecked when he came as 52nd on for almost ten minutes.

Then continued to the Ardennees ten years away from the Hell. He had, in the period that the throne of the suspended Alejandro Valverde vacant, becomes king of the short slope.

It was in the klimklassiekers that Gilbert his first classical monument won: the Tour of Lombardy in 2009, a victory that he, the year afterwards again re-did. Then followed his droomseizoen 2011, in which Gilbert, in his beloved Liege are third classical monument binnenreef, and a lucrative transfer afdwong to BMC.

With that new team had the Ardennees, against his sentence, the kasseienwerk left to Van Avermaet. Meanwhile, he continued to self-extract on the Cauberg, where in 2012 he became world champion and in 2014, his third of the provisional four victories in the Amstel Gold Race and won. But in Liege, and Lombardy seemed to be the victory less and less within his reach.

‘However, I continue to be able to do and still have a second Hatch or a fifth Amstel win, but my goal was, as much as possible, different quotes on my name to write’, he said yesterday. ‘Taking on new challenges is what motivates me, as a rider and in life.”

Panache

If the intended metamorphosis of puncher to kasseistamper all a gamble, it was, in any case, a calculated. The youth, Gilbert had, after all, a lot of experience gained in the kasseiwerk in the Flemish Ardennes, including the home team of Dirk De Wolf. Not coincidentally, he wrote early in his career, also two-time Omloop het Nieuwsblad on his list.

‘After my victory in the Tour of Flanders in 2017, it was clear in my head: I was on the right road and just had to be that way to continue. Last year, I went for the first time since 2007, returns to Paris-Roubaix. But it went not as I had hoped. I had not enough drunk, felt me at the most fifteen or twenty minutes, but just then they came to a decision. My race was over, I was fifteenth.’

Nevertheless, it was that experience that one of the keys to his success yesterday, told Gilbert. “It was important in my learning process. It goes so fast in the race that last year I sometimes lost reed. Now I knew of any kasseistrook and every turn how they looked. In Roubaix you have experience.’

The 117th edition of the queen of the classics developed tailored to the needs of the Ardennees. By the cold, the grueling headwind, and the incessant attack attempts was the debilitation from the old box. The image of virtually the whole of the spring, the troops of Deceuninck – Quick Step in it the opposition in the defense to penetrate, and their numerical majority to play. So could Gilbert his favourite battle plan unfold: the back cover to best use by far.

‘I attach great importance to the way in which my victories get’, declared the Walloon Monegask. “When I was small, and riders like Museeuw and Bartoli with panache saw win, put me to the dreams. I have their way always want to copy. When I came the second time, Lombardy won, I went with the late Scarponi of far. In the Round two years ago, I left on more than fifty kilometers away. Yesterday I started at 67 kilometers from the finish. Then Nils Politt, later again my friend deep into the finals. The ideal companion, because even someone who is not on a effort look.’

Four-leaf clover

With five classic monuments on his palmares performs Philippe Gilbert, now on his own, the rankings of the still active riders. Alejandro Valverde follows as second with four pieces. With that big difference that the Spaniard all four of his victories in one match achieved (liège-Bastogne-Liège) and the Waal in the four different monuments won. In the history of the sport have only three riders, the five monuments winners: Eddy Merckx, Roger De Vlaeminck and Rik Van Looy.

Already at a young age, told Gilbert that he dreamed of their footsteps to print. Later, he launched the hashtag #StriveForFive. Only Milan-san remo, where he had twice finished third, missing on his palmares. At the press conference yesterday he had, however, no message at all far to look ahead. ‘Let’s start with the Amstel next week and Hatch the week after that. I also think there chances are. I’m going there now to work hard, starting from tomorrow.”

Results: 1. Philippe GILBERT (Monaco/Deceuninck – Quick Step) 257.0 miles in 5u58’02” (avg.: 43.069 km/h); 2. Nils Politt (Ger); 3. Yves Lampaert 13”; 4. Sep Vanmarcke 40”; 5. Peter Sagan (Svk) 42”; 6. Florian Senechal (Fra) 47”; 7. Mike Teunissen (Ned); 8. Zdenek Stybar (Ch); 9. Evaldas Siskevicius (Lit); 10. Sebastian Langeveld (Ned); 11. Stefan Küng (Swi); 12. Greg Van Avermaet; 13. Oliver Naesen; 14. Heinrich Haussler (Aus) 1’24”; 15. Adrien Petit (Fra) 1’25”; 16. Marco Haller (Austria) 1’36”; 17. Arnaud Demare (Fra); 18. Anthony Turgis (Fra); 19. Hugo Hofstetter (Fra); 20. Bert De Backer; 21. Dylan van Baarle (Ned) 1’40”; 22. Wout Van Aert 1’42”; 23. Stijn Vandenbergh 2’14”; 24. Marcus Burghardt (Ger); 25. Laurens De Vreese 2’36”; 26. Frederik Backaert; 27. Jasper Stuyven 2’38”; 28. John Degenkolb (Ger) 3’00”; 29. Jens Keukeleire 3’06”; 30. Kristijan Koren (Sln) 3’39”

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