Philippe Gilbert passes his Tour of Flanders interview
The short version is that Philippe Gilbert pushed away from everyone on the Oude Kwaremont with 55km to and was never seen again. That really doesn’t do his Tour of Flanders winning ride justice though.
The attack – the surging sustained power that saw the gap created – was really just passing the interview. It was only after that his work truly began. Keeping a larger group of riders at bay is never easy and when you’re regularly hitting cobbled climbs with double digit gradients, you ain’t going to be skipping gaily along, all smiles and sunshine and cheery hellos.
For the next 1h20m everyone following the Tour of Flanders busied themselves assessing how unlikely it would be for Gilbert to actually stay away from everyone. It was an ever-changing equation and rarely were the odds in his favour.
Even with 5km to go, there seemed a more than decent chance that he’d be caught. But he wasn’t. It was a mighty performance. A doomed early move that somehow never met that doom.
He was aided by a series of mishaps behind him. Tom Boonen got to ride at least three different bikes after his chain kept getting trapped; Sep Vanmarcke somehow got his wheel wedged in a gap in the road and in so doing cleaned out Luke Rowe; and then Peter Sagan tried to ride in a space that wasn’t there, clipped a roadside barrier and sprawled out in the path of Greg Van Avermaet.
Many of these things happened because of tiredness and desperation though. They were tired of chasing Gilbert and desperate to catch him before they ran out of road, but they just weren’t getting anywhere. Weary mistakes ensued.
In comparison, the man who will become Belgium’s most popular rider when Tom Boonen retires after next week’s Paris-Roubaix was out of harm’s way up front. He didn’t come off his bike until one metre from the finish and that was only so he could hoist it aloft in celebration.
Top ride, Phil.