Talking Shop: World Number 1 Philip Gilbert

In an interview with German Eurosport, Gilbert admits it will be hard to beat his 2011 season and that the win he would celebrate most would be winning the rainbow jersey.

Many riders feel on top of the world if they win one classic but when you win as many as Philip Gilbert has, you end up on top of the world as world number 1. The Pharma-Lotto rider admits in an interview with German Eurosport that it will be hard to beat the season he has had this year.

“I am aware that this was an exceptional season. It’s a nice challenge to try and better it in 2012 but I will not change my preparation or my goals.”

Evans and Gilbert in BMC together — we will have different goals so there will be no problem says Gilbert (right). Photo  John Pierce/PhotoSport International UK USA Asia

Gilbert says he may well end up having  a season like Fabian Cancellara did this year with a lot of podiums but few wins. The Belgian though admits his move to the BMC super team was for sporting reasons and not the money adding that it isn’t just about what he gets paid but what his closest domestiques receive as well.

His 2011 Season…. not bad he?

1st Liège–Bastogne–Liège
1st Amstel Gold Race
1st La Flèche Wallonne
1st Clásica de San Sebastián
1st Grand Prix Cycliste de Québec
3rd Milan – San Remo

1st Belgium RR Championship
1st Belgium TT Championship
1st Tour of Belgium (1st stage 3 as well)
1st Ster Electra Tour (1st stage 4 as well)
1st Stage 1 Tour de France
2nd Overall Eneco Tour (1st Stage 3 as well)
1st Montepaschi Strade Bianche
1st Brabantse Pijl
1st GP de Wallonie
1st Stage 5 Tirreno-Adriatico
1st Stage 1 Volta ao Algarv

Gilbert showed in the Classics that he won such as Amstel, Fleche Wallone, San Sebastian and Leige-Bastogne-Leige that he has the power for the shorter Belgian climbs but when questioned about whether he will try and improve his climbing for classics such as Milan San Remo, he replied “I’m going to try to reduce my weight and be leaner for that race but my real goals are just a few weeks later with the Ardennes classics.”

Can Gilbert win the blue ribbon monument that is Paris-Roubaix?  “I think so” he says. Bad luck he admits plays a part in this race and that it is really disappointing to lose it because of a puncture.  Gilbert was also quizzed on whether he can ride a Grand Tour with the aim of a good result on the GC?

“That’s a difficult question” he admits before adding “at the moment, I am concentrating fully on the classics and have neither the desire nor reason to do any differently. Perhaps will come later in my career.”

Gilbert says that his move to BMC will not see many changes except the bike he rides. Each bike is different and he says hopes that he can quickly get his position right on his new bike. Talking about the challenge between BMC and the new team for the Schleck brothers, Gilbert admits it promises to be good duel.

“It’s just a shame that there is no team time trial at the Tour de France – that would be a great duel between our two teams and also Sky.”

Gilbert’s aware that his number of victories in the classics has him riding high in a list of legends who have had success in the classics. The Belgian though wants to win even more so that his name stands among the greats like Rik van Looy. “I am proud to be level with Johan Museeuw and Michele Bartoli” he adds.

“The Ardennes classics inspire me a little more than the other races. They motivate me even more and I ride with more passion there.”

Gilbert then explained with his Belgian Time Trial champion’s jersey, and the start in Liege (Belgium), it would difficult for him not to want to start the Tour de France in 2012 even if that means he isn’t in the best shape for the Autumn classics. “If I missed the Tour de France next year, I would regret it” he says.

As to whether there are too many chiefs (Gilbert, Hushovd and Evans) in the BMC team, the Belgian explains “we have already had a meeting with the team management that was very constructive. Everyone has set out their objectives and we have noticed that each of us has different goals.”

Gilbert also set out who he sees as his main rivals in 2012, naming Peter Sagan as one and Edvald Boasson Hagen as another. These are the real phenomena he says like Boonen and Valverde were in their prime. Asked if he is one of the best classics riders of the decade, Gilbert admits he is at least one of the best and that one of his coaches, with FDJ, said he had more explosiveness than Bettini did at his peak.

Asked if he has any regrets leaving Pharma Lotto, he says he is sad not have taken Jelle Vanendert with him to BMC and that perhaps later, they will ride for the same team again. “He was always extremely important in my victories although less so in Fleche Wallonne. I have to thank Jelle a lot. He knows I have a lot of respect for him. Without him, the victories would have been possible, but they would have been more difficult.”

Based on the interview on German on

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