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Philippe Gilbert obliged fans by signing autographs before the start. (©Sirotti.)
Philippe Gilbert obliged fans by signing autographs before the start. (©Sirotti.)

Santos Tour Down Under, Stage 2: Gilbert Crashes

23. January 2013

BMC Racing Team's Philippe Gilbert was among the more than two dozen riders who crashed on the descent to the finish Wednesday at the Santos Tour Down Under. Though not injured, the world road champion lost nearly three minutes, effectively ending his chances for a high placing overall.

Crashed Into Fallen Riders
Gilbert was in a large group that was pursuing four riders who escaped over the top of the final climb of Corkscrew Road, six kilometers from the end of the 116.5 km race. "We came around a sharp, left corner pretty fast and some guys in front of us had already gone down," Gilbert said. "We couldn't see them around the corner so we came full gas and hit them. It was impossible to pass." Gilbert finished the stage in 71st place, 2:49 behind stage winner Geraint Thomas (Sky Procycling), who won a four-up sprint and took the race lead. Thomas attacked midway up the 3 km climb and few could follow. "When he attacked, I was already at my maximum," Gilbert said. "I knew it was  still long way to the top, so I tried to stay there in the wheel but it was hard for me. I don't have the big condition now, so it wasn't easy."

Change Of Strategy
BMC Racing Team Assistant Director Fabio Baldato said until the crash, everything had been going according to plan. After four riders broke away in the first 10 km, the BMC Racing Team did its share of the chasing to bring them back with 19 km to go. "The guys started the last climb in the front and Philippe was in good position," he said. "I asked Ivan Santaromita to stay close to him and stay in the front." Santaromita (23rd, at 34 seconds) is now the BMC Racing Team's best-placed rider overall. Baldato said the team will change its focus for the final four stages. "We'll start looking toward the stages and see if tomorrow and the next days we can do something good."

Click here to listen to complete comments from Gilbert and Baldato on the BMC Racing Team Audio Line.