ProTeam Philippe Gilbert returns to competition after short break

Lotto Soudal rider at the start of La Flèche Wallonne and Liège-Bastogne-Liège.
General 20 April 2021

After a short break, Philippe Gilbert resumes competition. The Lotto Soudal rider will be at the start of La Flèche Wallonne and Liège-Bastogne-Liège, two races he won back in 2011. Gilbert is eager to pin on a number again during ‘his’ Ardennes Classics.

“Following several days without the bike, I was able to train well and I am really happy to be at the start of La Flèche Wallonne and Liège-Bastogne-Liège. I needed a short period of rest, but now I am ready to race again on the highest level”, begins Philippe Gilbert. “It’s nice to be back with the team and I am really looking forward to be racing again. Unfortunately, a crash slightly disrupted my preparation. During a solo training ride, I crashed on a descent. Luckily without any major consequences, except for quite a few abrasions. I also had to adapt my training plans a little. Still, I was able to do some six plus hours, which will have a positive effect on my shape.”

Exactly ten years ago, Philippe Gilbert won La Flèche Wallonne and Liège-Bastogne-Liège. This year, the Lotto Soudal rider primarily wants to have fun at the Ardennes Classics and take the opportunities as they come.

Philippe Gilbert: “Of course, I had quite an unusual run-up to the Ardennes Classics this year. Due to the short break, it’s difficult to say where I am, shape-wise, compared to the other riders. But I don’t fear these races are coming a little too soon. I am definitely not amongst the favourites, so there’s no pressure to perform. However, I am really eager to race. What concerns my ambitions, I am cautious. Let’s just go for the best result possible.”

(Read on below the image.)

Often, La Flèche Wallonne is decided with a showdown between the favourites on the final ascent of the feared Mur de Huy. But when everything falls into place, the race can have an unusual ending, says Philippe Gilbert: “There isn’t one clear favourite this year, which will make for an open race. I expect that quite some teams will want to anticipate. When you have the right composition, a small group could make it till the very end. But for that, you need at least 40 seconds at the foot of the Mur. Also at Lotto Soudal, we have to anticipate and race aggressively. In the past, Rik Verbrugghe and our sports director Mario Aerts have shown that it isn’t a mission impossible to win from a breakaway.”

“However, there aren’t much tactics involved when climbing the Mur de Huy. It is one of the toughest finishes of the season and certainly an honest climb. The one who is able to suffer the most, wins La Flèche Wallonne”, concludes Philippe Gilbert.

Line-up Lotto Soudal La Flèche Wallonne: Philippe Gilbert, Sébastien Grignard, Tomasz MarczyÅ„ski, Sylvain Moniquet, Stefano Oldani, Tosh Van der Sande and Tim Wellens.

Image: Photo News.

In this article