Eurosport - Thu, 20 May 06:22:00 2010
Philippe Gilbert has confirmed that he will miss the Tour de France with the Belgian rider not set to return until the Vuelta a Espana.
The Omega-Pharma Lotto rider's participation in the Tour was shrouded in doubt, but positive statements from team manager Marc Sergeant has reignited his fans' hopes that a surprise entry could yet materialise.
Gilbert won this year's Amstel Gold race and is aiming to win the world road race championships in October, but the 27-year-old has now moved to confirm that he will not be taking part in the Tour.
"I’ve never really considered participation," he told La Nouvelle Gazette. “This news will come as no surprise, but I never really considered riding this year’s Tour.”
"From the moment I decided to do the Classics and ride the Vuelta to get ready for the worlds, it would be crazy to do it."
Gilbert insists that he is opting to instead structure his season around taking a break in July, and then building his fitness back up for the final months of the season.
The Vuelta a Espana is widely perceived as being the best goal for the world championships and while 2009 worlds winner Cadel Evans rode both the Tour and the Vuelta, Gilbert's focus on the early-season Classics makes it next to impossible for him to sustain such intensity.
Missing the Tour will enable Gilbert to have two distinct peaks in the season and will, he hopes, enable him to grab the rainbow jersey.
While his manager Sergeant said that Gilbert would have the final decision, he underlined the importance of the Tour to Het Laaste Nieuws and will not be too enamoured by the rider's call.
Gilbert has now indeed arrived at his decision and, while it is one Sergeant might have mixed feelings about, if the rider goes on to win the worlds, his selection of racing programme will be fully vindicated in his mind.
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