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Philippe Gilbert out of Cobbled Classics with knee injury

Joe Robinson
1 Oct 2020

Veteran Belgian sidelined by injury sustained at Tour de France

Five-time Monument winner Philippe Gilbert will not race this year's Cobbled Classics due to a knee injury sustained at the Tour de France.

The former Tour of Flanders and Paris-Roubaix champion will miss the chance to push for further Monument success this autumn and may potentially have to end his season early because of persistent knee pains that saw him abandon the ongoing BinckBank Tour.

The knee injury came after Gilbert was one of many to crash on Stage 1 of the Tour on the wet and slippery roads around Nice.

The veteran Belgian was forced to abandon the race at the end of that day, but was hoping to recover in time for the rescheduled Spring Classics – now taking place in mid- to late-October.

'I quickly got back on the bike after my crash on 29th August,' Gilbert said in a statement. 'Maybe I started again too soon, but the rehab was going well, the motivation and morale were still there, and I really wanted to race.

'I resumed in the Tour du Luxembourg and then competed in two more one-day races, but I still felt pain.

'This pain became more prominent in the first stage of the BinckBank Tour. I then realised that I couldn't be at my best at the Tour of Flanders and at Paris-Roubaix. These races are even more demanding on the body, the body must be 200% ready.'

At 38 years old, Gilbert is running out of opportunities to add to his already-illustrious palmares. However, with just five months until the 2021 Spring Classics campaign, you would expect the Wallonian rider to be fit for at least one more try at Milan-San Remo, the only Monument that still eludes him.

Gilbert is even optimistic of a return to racing before the end of the year, and specifically at the Vuelta a Espana that begins on Tuesday 20th October.

'My first priority is to heal completely. I still have a lot of goals in cycling, for next season certainly, but very maybe for this season as well. Hopefully a Tour of Spain participation is still playable, but that’s not yet relevant. What matters now is a full recovery.'

As for his team, however, they are more focussed on Gilbert returning to full fitness for next season's Spring Classics campaign.

'Philippe has of course all our support. We took this decision together yesterday. For us it is important that he recovers completely and that he comes back to 100%,' said Lotto-Soudal general manager John Lelangue.

'The objective now will be to race in 2021 with Phil’s well-known ambition for his Classics.'