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MILAN, (VN) — World Champion Philippe Gilbert will race the Tour de France alongside BMC Racing teammates Tejay van Garderen and Cadel Evans.
After the one-day Gullegem Koerse race yesterday in Belgium, Gilbert confirmed he is going to France.
“I don’t understand why team BMC Racing waits to confirm it. So officially decision is not taken yet,” Gilbert said, smiling. “But everybody knows I will go. I’m looking forward to it.”
Gilbert suffered in the last two spring seasons. This year, he was unable to pull of a win in his new rainbow jersey. His best result was second in Brabant’s Pijl behind Peter Sagan (Cannondale).
Sagan was the story of the season, as Gilbert was in 2011 when he won all three Ardennes Classics and several other races. At the Tour de France last year, Sagan won three stages and the green jersey. He returns this year with a team built around him. Cannondale will mainly support Sagan while helping Moreno Moser in the overall classification.
It is a different story for Gilbert. BMC Racing heads to the Tour de France with an eye on the overall title.
Evans, after finishing third place in the Giro d’Italia, is the team captain. Van Garderen, who won the Amgen Tour of California this month and placed fifth overall and earned the white jersey for best Young Rider at last year’s Tour, will offer the team a second GC option.
Evans’ Giro d’Italia participation was rushed. He only decided to race about five weeks out, just before tackling Tirreno-Adriatico. As a result, he raced without a custom-built team. The only exception BMC Racing made to its original Giro squad, besides Evans, was adding Steve Morabito.
“It’s thanks to him that I’m here at this podium place,” Evans said Sunday. “He has made an enormous commitment to my result and has been riding the last days with a broken hand. He broke it on the stage to the Télégraphe [Ivrea] and only told me [Saturday night]. That shows the belief he has in me.”
Evans expects Morabito and a dedicated team at his side in the Tour. It is not yet clear how Gilbert or a rider like Thor Hushovd, if he races, may fit in.
“We will pull out all the stops for one race, and that is going to be a big difference,” Evans added. “I had guys [at the Giro] who I hadn’t even raced with before. With [Manuel] Quinziato, [Marcus] Burghardt, Morabito … We know exactly what we have to do [at the Tour]. We have been there and won the Tour before.”
Gilbert raced last year when Evans placed seventh. This year, more than last, he wants to win a stage, salvage his season, and build towards the 2013 Worlds.
Currently, Gilbert is the worst-performing World Champion in 20 years since 1994 World Champion, Luc Leblanc.