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Philippe Gilbert celebrated a victory that has been nearly an entire season in the making. (©BMC/Tim De Waele.)
Philippe Gilbert celebrated a victory that has been nearly an entire season in the making. (©BMC/Tim De Waele.)

Gilbert Takes First Victory As World Champion At Vuelta

5. September 2013

BMC Racing Team's Philippe Gilbert won his first race as world road champion Thursday by charging past Edvald Boasson Hagen (Sky Procycling) in the final 50 meters of the uphill finish of Stage 12 of the Vuelta a España.

'It Was Like A Dream'
In taking the win in the rainbow jersey, Gilbert put five runner-up finishes behind him and scored the BMC Racing Team's 27th victory of the season. The winner of two stages of the Vuelta last year said he had a lot of confidence heading into the 164.2-kilometer race. "I was really convinced because the last time when I was second (on Stage 7 last Saturday), it was a little bit similar finish – with a very tricky final," Gilbert said. "So I decided to come to the front pretty early, like with 20 km to go. This cost me a lot of energy because you hit the wind more than the rest. But at least you see everything coming and you can choose your line. I was perfectly dropped off by the guys in the last two kilometers, especially by Danilo Wyss, who did a great job." Gilbert said he was not deterred when Boasson Hagen opened a gap of several bike lengths in the final 250 meters. "When you start (sprinting) so early, it's never easy, because it's still like 20 seconds to the line – a long time," Gilbert said. "It's also where I am the strongest. I knew if I went full gas, I could make it. I passed him and it happened. It was like a dream. It was amazing." Vincenzo Nibali (Astana Pro Team) kept the race lead while Dominik Nerz (16th, 8:02 behind) remains the BMC Racing Team's best rider in the overall standings.

Tremendous Teamwork
BMC Racing Team Assistant Director Yvon Ledanois said he saw a tremendous display of teamwork deliver Gilbert safely to the final kilometer in a finish so potentially dangerous that race officials extended the usual "mishap" zone from three kilometers to five. "In the last 12 kilometers, when there was a big attack by Tony Martin, I told Danilo Wyss and Klaas Lodewyck it was time to go to work for Philippe," Ledanois said. "Directly, they went to the front of the race and went to work. I like that attitude." Ledanois said he and Performance Manager Allan Peiper, who is acting as second director at the Vuelta this week, hope the winning continues. "We have one team here, working well together," Ledanois said. "The objective for the team is a good Vuelta, with stage wins. We have a good opportunity for more not just with Philippe, but also with Ivan Santaromita, with Yannick Eijssen – with all of our riders. So I am happy for the team today."

Pinotti Withdraws
Italian national time trial champion Marco Pinotti withdrew from the race before the start, suffering from a sinus infection, BMC Racing Team Dr. Roger Palfreeman said. Pinotti said he had not been feeling well before Wednesday's individual time trial in which he finished 25th, 3:14 off the winning time. "We decided it was best to pull out and try to recover because this might be the only chance I have to participate in the world championship team time trial and the individual time trial," Pinotti said. "I am disappointed, of course. But I want to be philosophical and say I could have tried to start. But for sure it doesn't get better. It's difficult to get healthy racing."

Listen to complete comments from Gilbert (English, French and Spanish), Ledanois and Pinotti on the BMC Racing Team's Vuelta a España Audio Line.