Report & Results – Gilbert gets his hands in the air


Former World Champion Philippe Gilbert finally got that win in Brabantse Pijl on Wednesday

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Report & Results – Gilbert gets his hands in the air

BMC’s Philippe Gilbert won his first race of the season on Wednesday, holding off Michael Matthews (ORICA-GreenEDGE) in the Belgian semi classic Brabantse Pijl.

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Winner of this race in 2011 and runner-up last year, Gilbert earned the victory with a throw of his bike as Matthews attempted to come around him on the uphill dash to the finish. “Matthews was the fastest, but I played it well because he had to close the gap to (Bjorn) Leukemans and (Wouter) Poels on the descent and that cost him power,”

Gilbert said. “I also saw he was boxed in at the last corner, but I waited, because I knew from the last times (up the climb), I didn’t want to make the same mistake. It was perfect.” After Gilbert and Matthews, Tony Gallopin (Lotto Belisol) was third.

Solo Pursuit
With 21 kilometers left in the 203.1-km race, Gilbert attacked to bridge a 15-second gap to a small breakaway. His solo effort lasted nine kilometers, but less than two minutes after he joined the escapees, the peloton closed down the move. “I had to choose between waiting or trying and I tried,” Gilbert said.

“Alone against seven riders is not easy with a headwind. And when I came back, the peloton came also back. Eventually it was a performance for nothing; but you never know.”

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Sport Director Max Sciandri said he was impressed by the teamwork on display around Gilbert. Inside of 50 km to go, the BMC Racing Team took to the front to pursue what remained of a six-man breakaway.

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“We showed we were the strongest team and, in particular, Philippe showed he was way stronger than a lot of other people,” Sciandri said. “He won a great sprint. He moved the team around pretty well and also made a great move himself. It’s quite dangerous to stay out there for seven or eight kilometers after 180. But he got the job done.”

Michael ‘bling’ Matthews (Orica-GreenEdge)
“We all did our bit today just like we said in the team meeting,” said Matthews. “The main goal of the day was to have somebody on the podium – preferably the top step. We’ve done everything right today. We couldn’t ask for anything more out of anyone, and we came away with second place. We have to be happy with that.”



The Race
The sleepy start to the day saw a six rider break slip clear in the opening kilometres. Perrig Quémeneur (Europcar). Matthias Brändle (IAM), Christopher Williams (Novo Nordisk), Kiel Reijnen (UnitedHealthcare), and Nerio Sottoli teammtes Mattia Pozzo and Giorgio Cecchinel pocketed 6’50 over the peloton by the mid-point of the race.

Lotto Belisol and Garmin-Sharp were the first two teams to take up the chase. Their efforts methodically saw the break’s advantage shrink. With two circuit laps remaining, the leader’s advantage had fallen below the minute mark.

“We were planning to race aggressively,” said Gerrans. “This race is generally won from a break that forms on the finish circuit. When I attacked with just under 50 kilometres, I wasn’t planning on winning the race from that move. I was hoping to take the pressure off the other guys – Daryl [Impey] and Michael in particular. I also wanted to give myself a good, hard race in preparation for Amstel Gold on Sunday.”

When Gerrans attacked, several other teams had already begun to jump from the bunch in an attempt to bridge across to the disintegrating front group, but it was Gerrans’ acceleration that inspired the biggest response. A handful of riders attempted to follow the Australian National Road Champion as the peloton began to split.

Thirty four kilometres from the finish, 11 riders had made the front group. Reijnen, Quémeneur, Brandle and Pozzo had survived from the early break. The quartet was joined by Gerrans, Pieter Seery (Omega Pharma – QuickStep), Kevin Reza (Europcar), Nathan Haas (Garmin-Sharp), Björn Leukemans (Wanty – Groupe Gobert), Mauro Finetto (Neri Sottoli) and Tosh Van der Sande (Lotto Belisol).

“Gerro decided to a follow the attacks,” said Matthews. “He ended up in a really strong move that looked as if it might stay away. He was probably the clear favourite out of the breakaway group, so the situation was a good one for us. Impey and I could relax in the bunch, and we knew that if things didn’t come back together, Gerro could take out the win from the group. We were happy to let it go.”

But the break stopped cooperating and were swept up by the bunch inside the last ten kilometres.”

A fresh onslaught of attacks began as soon as the peloton overtook Gerrans and company. Not yet fully spent from his effort out front, Gerrans was quick to cover the fast and furious attacks thrown one after another after another.

“My chance to win the race was basically gone once the break was caught, but we still had Michael and Daryl,” said Gerrans. “I wanted to do my bit to help those two out in the finish, so I neutralised any break attempts and made sure they were both well-placed in the final few kilometres for the run in towards the finish.”

Matthews had a powerful jump left in the legs. Initially, it looked as if he would open up his sprint from the front of the reduced bunch. Then, Gilbert jumped on the left side of the road. With Gilbert blocking Matthews from coming around on the left, Matthews made his move on the right.

“When you’re in front and you see someone coming around you out of the corner of your eye, it’s natural that you veer slightly to the side,” said Matthews. “It was a clean sprint. Gilbert was quicker than I was today.”



Third placed Tony Gallopin
“Considering the race developments, I’m very satisfied with my third place. I had a puncture 25 kilometers from the finish. On the same place of the course as last year. Honestly, I thought my race was over. Because of the succession of hills the race never stopped.”

“I had to return from behind the team cars, but eventually I could pass one group after another and that way I could take my place back in front. Thanks to the teammates I joined the first group just before the last climb, not a moment too early.”

“When I joined the peloton I still wanted to try to set a good result. In the sprint I had to give away about ten metres to winner Gilbert and Matthews, but considering the chase I had done, the third place was the highest possible result. With the Walloon classics in mind, I chose to take some rest after the Tour of Flanders.”

“I could use this Brabantse Pijl as last step-up to the next races. I’m especially curious to see how far I can come in a race like Liège-Bastogne-Liège. I definitely have got the motivation and the necessary confidence after my third place today.”

1 GILBERT Philippe BMC Racing Team 04:54:26
2 MATTHEWS Michael Orica GreenEDGE
3 GALLOPIN Tony Lotto Belisol
4 GESCHKE Simon Team Giant-Shimano
5 LEUKEMANS Bjorn Wanty – Groupe Gobert
6 HAAS Nathan Garmin Sharp
7 REBELLIN Davide CCC Polsat Polkowice
8 VERMOTE Julien Omega Pharma – Quick-Step
9 REICHENBACH Sebastien IAM Cycling
10 TSATEVICH Alexey Team Katusha
11 DEVENYNS Dries Team Giant-Shimano
12 ARASHIRO Yukiya Team Europcar
13 ROMERO Jeffry Team Colombia
14 ALAPHILIPPE Julian Omega Pharma – Quick-Step 00:04
15 POELS Wout Omega Pharma – Quick-Step
16 SERRY Pieter Omega Pharma – Quick-Step
17 MATE MARDONES Luis Angel Cofidis, Solutions Crédits
18 VAN DEN BROECK Jurgen Lotto Belisol
19 MALACARNE Davide Team Europcar
20 SBARAGLI Kristian MTN – Qhubeka 00:10

44 HOOGERLAND Johnny Androni Giocattoli – Venezuela 00:34
46 GERRANS Simon Orica GreenEDGE
47 IMPEY Daryl Orica GreenEDGE
67 VAN POPPEL Boy Trek Factory Racing
82 CUMMINGS Stephen BMC Racing Team

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