Belgium rider Philippe Gilbert has won the Amstel Gold Race on three occasions, but this year he doesn’t consider himself to be a contender because of his stop-start beginning to the season.
It hasn’t been a vintage start for a rider that is usually prominent in the cobbled Classics; he won at the Vuelta a Murcia, but he crashed at Omloop Het Nieuwsblad, and then fell ill at Paris-Nice, and also missed Milan-Sanremo; and to further compound matters he fractured his finger after altercation with a motorist.
The race on Sunday will be a hotly contested affair with plenty of top riders vying for victory and given Gilbert’s fractured finger, his riding style has had to change to accommodate the injury.
Gilbert has to brake with three fingers, but says he has ‘no choice’
Amstel is a race Gilbert favours; as he has won it three times; but he also won the 2012 Worlds on the some of the same roads, so he does have an advantage over his rivals in that sense.
But he is adamant that he is not a favourite this time around, saying: “You need to be realistic. I’m not the favourite for the race on Sunday.”
BMC will give Gilbert the leader’s role on Sunday, but depending on how the race is going, Gilbert said he will ‘take stock’ depending on the circumstances.
The change of position and the slight alteration of how he brakes is something that will certainly handicap his ability to control the bike, and it is something that he is aware of: “I’m not at 100 percent of my possibilities. I’m a bit of an outsider.”
But if he can manage to stay in with a shout heading into the last 10km, his experience will come into the fore, but he still feels his chances of winning are slim: “Whether I can win, we’ll see how I am after the last ascent of the Gulpenberg.”