Philippe Gilbert confirmed that though he intends to retire on the finish of the season, he nonetheless has the flexibility to win. The 39-year-old, who has victories in all of the Monuments save Milan-San Remo, handily gained the uphill bunch dash on stage 3 of the 4 Jours de Dunkerque and moved himself into rivalry for the general.
“This victory comes with loads of feelings, it has been some time since I took a win,” Gilbert stated. “However I clearly have not forgotten how one can throw my arms within the air.”
After taking his 79th profession victory, Gilbert defined how the staff needed to adapt after their younger proficient sprinter Arnaud De Lie was taken out in a crash on the opening stage.
“We’re right here with a robust staff and we have been aiming for an excellent general outcome and stage wins with Arnaud De Lie, amongst others,” stated Gilbert. “Sadly he was pressured to desert in stage 1 so we needed to adapt our racing technique a bit. And so it was performed. The staff rode an ideal race right this moment and I used to be in a position to end it off on the finish.”
The stage win nabbed him a 10-second time bonus and moved him to second general, tied with stage 1 winner Arvid de Kleijn (Human Powered Well being).
With three levels nonetheless to go – together with a wonderfully Gilbert-suited stage 5 from Roubaix to Cassel sandwiched in between two levels for pure sprinters – De Kleijn and Gilbert maintain a one second result in third positioned Samuel Leroux (GO Sport – Roubaix Lille Métropole). Nevertheless, your entire high 60 on the GC continues to be inside ten seconds.
“All the pieces continues to be to play for,” Gilbert stated. “Tomorrow we’d get one other bunch dash however Saturday’s stage on and round Mont Cassel will likely be essential. I do know the climb from Gent-Wevelgem and it’ll clearly be a tough day. However with six Lotto Soudal riders nonetheless inside ten seconds on GC, we nonetheless have a number of playing cards to play.”
Gilbert’s final win got here earlier than the pandemic when he claimed a wind-swept stage of the 2019 Vuelta a España. Since then, he is switched from Quickstep to Lotto Soudal, suffered from knee issues – the results of a fractured patella within the 2020 Tour de France. He introduced he would retire final month.
The factors for a victory within the ProSeries 4 Jours of Dunkerque are the equal of two stage wins within the Giro d’Italia, and would go a good distance towards serving to Lotto Soudal get out of final place within the 2020-2022 WorldTour staff standings and keep away from relegation from the highest tier in 2023.