Gilbert to BMC. Too many chiefs?
This year’s most dominant one day rider, a classics superstar, Philippe Gilbert has joined world champion Thor Hushovd and Tour de France winner Cadel Evans at BMC. That’s a yellow jersey, rainbow stripes and a man who wore the green maillot in the Tour for a few days.
That’s three good-sized egos and already the guessing game is whether that’s going to be a migraine for manager John Lelangue. Smart men like Johan Bruyneel and Jonathan Vaughters had trouble juggling stars so Lelangue will have to step up his game. It’ s an embarrassment of both riches and possibly conflicting agendas. (You can now add BMC to the list of big budget super squads, along with Sky and Katusha.)
Is Gilbert really ready to ride for Evans in the Tour or will he be more focused on getting his stage win in the first seven to ten days? After his overall victory in the Tour de France, Evans has every right to a 100% dedicated team with only one objective.
Nobody except Evans knows how excited or disappointed he is about the news that Gilbert is joining BMC. On one hand, it appears they got along as former teammates in Lotto and have kept in touch. However, there’s also the quote from the Aussie about sharing a tour team with a sprinter in the past and no desire to do so in the future. Evans is too nice to present ultimatums and perhaps this is one time he should have.
The other half of the equation and difficult co-habitation is Thor Hushovd. We’s sure like to know if Hushovd was told by BMC management that there was a high probability of landing Gilbert. There was probably a contract provision that Van Summeren was never to be hired under any circumstances but not mention of Gilbert.
If we were the world champion coming off two stages wins in the Tour de France and also still bitter about watching teammate Johan Van Summeren win Paris-Roubaix, then the last person we’d want to see is Philippe Gilbert. While most observers claim that Gilbert has no great designs on the Hell of the North, he’s also stated he wants to win them all and has the talent to do exactly that.
In the end, it’s probably just about dollars and nobody deserves a bigger raise than Gilbert. We distinctly remember watching Gilbert and Hushovd joking with each other at sign-in one morning at this year’s Tour de France. We hope they will still be joking next season when the classics are over.