Following a month away from racing, BMC Racing Team’s Philippe Gilbert makes his return Wednesday at the Tour of Belgium, one of two stage races he won last year.
Gilbert said he enjoyed a break from racing after registering his top four performances of the season in his last four races of his spring campaign – including third at Flèche Wallonne. “It was good for me to spend one month at home, to be able to work hard and start a new base and build new form and condition,” the Belgian national road and time trial champion said.
BMC Racing Team Directeur Sportif John Lelangue said key stages in the five-day race are the last two: Saturday’s 20.5-kilometer time trial and a 212 km race Sunday that includes some of the climbs from Flèche-Wallonne and Liège-Bastogne-Liège. “The time trial is totally flat and almost without curves – something for a specialist – while the last day will be selective,” Lelangue said.
“We’ll also have to be careful because of the wind. Normally it’s a perfect race for the sprinters. But we’ll have to make sure we don’t get caught in a split with the wind.”
Gilbert said the time trial makes repeating a victory a tall order. “I know against the time trial specialists, I will lose time,” he said. “The last stage is tricky in the area of Huy, so if I see that I can’t aim for the general classification, I will try to win a stage.”