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Philippe Gilbert (leading) rode strongly to finish sixth at the Amstel Gold Race Sunday. (©BMC/Tim de Waele.)
Philippe Gilbert (leading) rode strongly to finish sixth at the Amstel Gold Race Sunday. (©BMC/Tim de Waele.)

BMC Racing Team's Gilbert Ready For Flèche-Wallonne

17. April 2012

On the eve of the 76th edition of Flèche-Wallonne, defending champion Philippe Gilbert shared his final outlook for Wednesday's race after the BMC Racing Team performed reconnaissance of a portion of the 194-kilometer course.

Final Training Ride
The BMC Racing Team twice climbed the finishing climb of the Mur de Huy, a twisting, 1.3 km ascent averaging 9.3 percent grade. Gilbert was joined by teammates Brent Bookwalter, Martin Kohler, Klaas Lodewyck, Mauro Santambrogio, Michael Schär, Greg Van Avermaet and Tejay van Garderen on the two-hour, 60 km ride. Afterwards, Gilbert answered questions about his expectations, coming off a season-best, sixth-place performance at Amstel Gold Race Sunday.

How do you feel after the Amstel Gold Race?
"I'm satisfied, having had a respectable result is good for the morale and helps me recover a little faster."

Emotionally, what did you feel during the Amstel Gold Race?

"I knew my condition would be back one day and it's nice to be better and it's always easier. Cycling is an extremely demanding sport, so when we suffer it is not always easy to be good during a race. Being in better condition helps me to see the race, to analyze it and to place myself in the front."

What do you think you are still missing in order to achieve a victory?

"I'm not 100 percent yet, but I feel it's coming. I think that at this level you really have to be at the top and every little failure is paid immediately."

What did you work on to increase your chances of victory this week?

"The past several weeks my condition has been improving day by day. So time is on my side – it's my best ally."

Who do you see as a favorite for Flèche Wallonne?
"I think the Katusha Team in general, they have several cards to play with guys like Oscar Freire and Joaquin Rodriguez. They have a very strong team here. For me they are the favorites, especially with this type of finish."

What do you think of the new route of Flèche Wallonne?

"This route seems to favor a breakaway that may start from far away, or even more riders might come to the finish together. I think the race will probably be easier than before, which does not necessarily plays in my favor."

How do you feel mentally?

"I'm fine. It feels good to be here for sure. I will not be satisfied unless I get another good result. And I'll be very happy if I win."

Your fans are present in large numbers during this week of the Ardennes classics. How does that make you feel?

"At the finish of Amstel, there was a huge turnout, including my family and my fan club. They have always been at my side and never abandoned me – even when things weren't going so well the past few months. Those are people I can count on. The rest does not matter, so for sure it’s always a great pleasure to see them."