An all-in attack 55 kilometers away from the finish and a ride for the history books helped the Philippe Gilbert conquer the 101st edition of Ronde van Vlaanderen.
“After Tom initiated that move on the Muur, we continued to push and decided to go full gas on the second ascent of the Oude Kwaremont”, said Philippe Gilbert, only the second Wallon rider in history to triumph at De Ronde.
“Tom did a big pull just ahead of the hill, I took over as the road began to rise and soon noticed I opened a small gap and never looked back again. Many people thought I was crazy to attack 55 kilometers out, myself included, but I didn’t go that hard, because I was aware the final 15 kilometers were very tough, so I kept some energy which I knew would prove very useful for that last part of the race”.
Gilbert, who lined out at the start coming off the back of a spectacular overall victory in Driedaagse De Panne-Koksijde, credited his pre-season preparation as the key behind his magnificent success.
“I felt good since winter, when I trained with the team in Denia. The motivation was also there, as I knew I still had it in me and Quick-Step Floors was the right team to be in. Then, going into Omloop, the form was there, but you couldn’t see that on TV because I was caught behind a crash, and continued to feel stronger with every race I did”.
The Belgian Champion became only the fourth ever rider to win during his career the World Championships, Ronde van Vlaanderen, Liège–Bastogne–Liège and Il Lombardia.
“When I approached the final kilometer, I looked behind and saw the chasers were still a long way back and thought of a nice way of celebrating my success. That’s why I raised my bike over my head, because it was an important part of my victory. I’m really proud of how I managed today’s race and of what I achieved!”