Oh look, Philippe Gilbert’s turned up
Someone needs to step in and turn the pages of Philippe Gilbert’s calendar for him. He keeps turning up five months late.
Phil always aims for April and the hilly spring classics, but this year and last year it hasn’t been until the Vuelta that he’s won a race. Last year, that late season form was enough to make him world champion, which has made this year’s struggles all the more embarrassing as he’s had to flounder around resplendent in the rainbow jersey.
It’s over now though. He closed in on Edvald Boasson Hagen in the closing metres of stage 12 like a hungry predator, before opting to overtake his quarry rather than devour it.
I’ve a lot of time for Phil. He keeps the sport three dimensional. Sometimes it can feel a bit like a successful rider has to be a sprinter, climber or time trialist, but Phil’s none of these things. He’s a puncheur. He likes an incline, but not the long mountain climbs. He specialises in ferocious, shorter efforts. Cycling speed uphill is about your power to weight ratio and Gilbert puts a lot more emphasis on the first part of that equation than the Grand Tour contenders. These sorts of riders may win less frequently, but they do tend to win more exciting races.
A couple of bonus seconds for Nicolas Roche at an intermediate sprint and not much else of note. Domenico Pozzovivo added ‘puncturing in the last 5km’ to the lengthening list of things that he can do, but due to a change in the rules for this stage in response to the difficult route at the finish was credited with the same time as everyone else.
Ever-so-slightly uphill at the finish and a climb which will detach larger sprinters from the peloton three-quarters of the way through as well. Here’s the profile.