Many apologies Philippe Gilbert
We owe Quickstep Floors Philippe Gilbert a huge apology.
Really, we thought he was kinda washed up the last few years at BMC. Not much on the results sheet, especially not given the size of his salary and the proportions of his ego. Phil was still taking like he was bad-ass when clearly he wasn’t/
Then a day ago he wins the Tour of Flanders in a solo attack from about 55 kilometers out from the finish. That’s when I started feeling clueless and stupid about everything I’ve said about Gilbert over the last 24 months. Like this pathetic post about how you wouldn’t win a thing this year or this post that questioned your training methods or this wrong-headed post about your quotes on teamwork. We’re sorry, what can we say — we’re dumb.
Oh sure, if World Champion Peter Sagan hadn’t ridden too close to the barriers and snagged a fan’s jacket and then crashed, Phil might have ended up in third, fourth or fifth.
Sagan’s unfortunate tumble also took out two rider behind him including race favorite and rival Greg Van Avermaet of BMC. They both remounted and continued the chase but Gilbert had a minute on them and no plans to give up much of that glorious time gap.
By Sagan’s calculations, he and Van Avermaet would have most likely caught Gilbert and then who is to say that Gilbert still winds Flanders. Not likely given the sprint skills of those two rivals.
Nevertheless, that’s the cruel sport of bike racing and Gilbert had already impressed the Hell out of everyone with two eyes. His aggression put him out in front of the race and in position to win and if people crash behind him, well, too bad for them.
So Philippe, I know you can’t see me but I have egg on my face and now I’m down on both knees begging your forgiveness for doubting you and talking behind your back about what a washed-up champion you have become.
You’ve got the champagne and I’m drinking cheap box wine and lashing myself for my inability to see your enduring class as a rider. Chapeau to you and your Quick-steppers and I will just slink out the back door.
As part of my punishment, I shall refrain from saying anything negative about you for the entire 2017 race season. You were right and we were wrong and there is no getting around that fact. You won yourself a monument and we made a colossal error in judgement.