Gilbert banking on his diesel engine for Paris-Roubaix despite Flanders splutter
12 April 2019 09:30
After a disappointing Tour of Flanders, owing to illness, a motivated Philippe Gilbert returns to action at Paris-Roubaix this weekend. The Belgian has only raced 'The Hell of North' on two occasions in his career - firstly in 2007, before returning last year after a long hiatus. During that time away from the cobbles of Roubaix, the 36-year-old established himself as one of the most prolific one-day riders of his generation, with wins in three of cycling's Monuments and a road world title added to his palmarès. Although he lacks Paris-Roubaix experience, Gilbert cannot be ignored on Sunday, even if his recent form has been hit by an illness that saw him abandon both Dwars door Vlaanderen and the Tour of Flanders.ADVERTISEMENT "I was sick before Flanders and it wasn't easy to leave the race like that because it was a big objective and I was working hard. The shape was coming but that's how it is. This is sport and if you get sick it's over," Gilbert said at his team's press conference on Thursday evening. "That's why I decided to quit the race, not go too deep into my reserves and just try and recover. I'm better, and I hope to be good on Sunday." Gilbert's form this spring can be described as steady rather than spectacular. He has often lined up as Patrick Lefevere's on-field coordinator, orchestrating plays from deep and bringing teammates into position rather than seeking the glory of victory. Perhaps that's age, perhaps there are just fresher riders within the QuickStep offensive line, but Gilbert's experience and class ensure he will be a marked rider on Sunday.
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