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Gilbert Comes Up Short at Liège-Bastogne-Liège

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AFP / Yuzuru Sunada

Philippe Gilbert could not hide his disappointment after finishing eighth at Liege-Bastogne-Liege on Sunday. The 31-year-old, who was born in Verviers, in the same region that ‘La Doyenne’ is raced, came into the race as one of two overwhelming favorites, alongside Spaniard Alejandro Valverde, who came second. Having won this race in 2009, when Gilbert completed an Ardennes treble – also winning the Amstel Gold Race and Fleche Wallonne – the BMC rider was hoping to succeed in the 100th edition of Liege-Bastogne-Liege. But he couldn’t follow his rivals’ acceleration on the final ramp in Ans at the the end of 263km of racing, instead settling for a minor placing as Australia’s Simon Gerrans won.

“I came here with the intention of winning so eighth is a disappointment,” he said. “I was lacking a bit of strength in the last few kilometers to get a result. But it wasn’t easy. With the tailwind it was very fast. We were always in a big group and it wasn’t possible to attack or go quicker.”

Having won the Brabantse Pijl semi-classic 10 days ago and also Amstel Gold last Sunday, it has nonetheless been a successful Ardennes campaign for Gilbert, who was 10th at Wednesday’s Fleche Wallonne.

“I won two, Brabantse and Amstel Gold, but it’s obviously Liege that was the most important to me. “So I’m not totally satisfied with my Spring campaign. Well done to Gerrans who is a great winner and building up an impressive resume.”