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Philippe Gilbert (second from left) nearly won his first race of the season Saturday. (©BMC/Tim De Waele.)
Philippe Gilbert (second from left) nearly won his first race of the season Saturday. (©BMC/Tim De Waele.)

Paris-Nice, Stage 6: So Close For Gilbert

9. March 2013

Reigning world road champion Philippe Gilbert of the BMC Racing Team narrowly finished second to Sylvain Chavanel (Omega Pharma-Quick Step) in Saturday's sprint to the finish along the seaside boulevard in Nice on the penultimate stage of Paris-Nice.

Very Long Sprint
Gilbert had all of his teammates to help him – save for Brent Bookwalter, who had spent most of the 220-kilometer race representing the BMC Racing Team in the day's breakaway of 11 riders that was reeled in with 40 km to go. "Dominik Nerz and Daniel Oss did a very big job, but we were missing one guy in the finale, so I did a very long sprint – about 300 meters," Gilbert said. "To hold this effort is not easy. It's a big disappointment because losing by that close is never good." Gilbert's runner-up placing was his best result of the season that also includes a third-place finish on Stage 3 of the Santos Tour Down Under. Jose Rojas (Movistar Team) finished third as Richie Porte (Sky Procycling) kept the overall lead. Nine riders, including BMC Racing Team's Tejay van Garderen (in sixth overall), are within a minute of Porte with only Sunday's 9.6 km individual time trial to go.

Van Garderen Keeps Focus
Directeur Sportif John Lelangue said the BMC Racing Team put forth its best effort to organize a lead-out train for the straight, flat run-in. "Attacking at one kilometer out made no sense because it was too far away and with a tailwind," he said. "The sprint was pretty well done. We're not a sprinters team, but we gave everything and Philippe give everything he had. We have no regrets." Van Garderden said it will be a tough task to make up the 52 seconds he is behind Porte on the race against the clock up the Col d’Èze. "The podium is still within reach, but to bring back a minute on Porte in only a 20-minute effort, especially with the way he's riding – is not possible," van Garderen said. "All I can do is my best. I'll go out there and focus on myself. If it turns out to be a victory, that would be great."

Click here to listen to complete comments from Gilbert (English and French) and Lelangue on the BMC Racing Team Audio Line.