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Philippe Gilbert was elated after scoring his first victory of the season. (©BMC/Tim de Waele.)
Philippe Gilbert was elated after scoring his first victory of the season. (©BMC/Tim de Waele.)

Gilbert Wins Vuelta a España Stage 9

26. August 2012

BMC Racing Team's Philippe Gilbert bested Vuelta a España race leader Joaquin Rodriguez in a two-up sprint Sunday in Barcelona to score his first victory of the season.

'I Never Stopped Fighting'
After thrusting his arm in the air after crossing the line ahead of the Katusha Team rider and seven seconds ahead of third place, Gilbert said the victory was satisfying, particularly coming nearly a year after his last win at the GP de Wallonie on Sept. 14, 2011. "It's been a hard season for me and I'm very happy to win with the BMC Racing Team jersey," Gilbert said. "There's been a lot of expectations for me this season and I was not going like I should go. But I never stopped fighting. The good thing is, I always had the confidence of the team and my family and my supporters." Rodriguez kept the overall lead while widening his advantage over second-placed Christopher Froome (Sky Procycling) by crossing the line 12 seconds ahead of the main field.

Ballan's Attack
Gilbert came to the line with Rodriguez after the pair broke away on the Category 3 ascent of the Alto de Montjuic, four kilometers from the finish of the 196.3 km race. Their escape was set up by an attack by BMC Racing Team's Alessandro Ballan at the foot of the 1.1 km climb that averages eight percent. "When I saw Alessandro go, I looked up and saw the top was still a long ways off," Gilbert said. "I knew Alessandro was going early, but that was the plan." Over the top, only Gilbert could follow Rodriguez and the two opened up a gap on the high-speed descent leading to the finish line outside the 1992 Olympic Stadium. "I was riding it like it was a time trial until 500 meters to go," the past Belgian national road and time trial champion said. "We didn't have time to talk, but I looked at him as if to say 'now it's your job to take the seconds.' Then I waited until the last 150 meters to open up my sprint."

Strong Teamwork
BMC Racing Team Directeur Sportif John Lelangue said Rodriguez was the perfect rider to take to the line. "They had a common interest to go full gas and ride to the finish," Lelangue said. "Rodriguez was looking for a gap on the leaders and we were going for the stage win. We knew this would be a good finish for Philippe. It's good to have the first victory." Lelangue said the win was set up by work the team did to bring back a four-man breakaway that escaped at the start. "Steve Cummings and Yannick Eijssen did a good job of controlling the break and keeping it at four minutes," Lelangue said. "Then the rest of the guys did a good job of putting Gilbert and Ballan in good position at the foot of the climb."

Look for More Opportunities
The victory was the BMC Racing Team's sixth of the month, adding to wins by Adam Blythe (Paris-Corrèze, Stage 1), Johann Tschopp (Larry H. Miller Tour of Utah overall and Stage 5), Alessandro Ballan (Eneco Tour of Benelux, Stage 7) and Tejay van Garderen (USA Pro Challenge, Stage 2). Lelangue said he hopes there are more chances in the final two weeks of the Vuelta to achieve the team's objectives. "We want to try to keep Steve Morabito in a good position on the general classification and keep finding opportunities to go for stage wins," he said. Morabito finished with the pack on the stage to remain 18th overall, 4:29 back of Rodriguez. Monday marks the first of two rest days in the three-week race.

Click here to listen to Gilbert's complete comments on the BMC Racing Team Vuelta a España AudioLine.