Beware Phil Gil.
“Philippe is quite simply the best in the world, and we should all be afraid of him,” said Spain’s Oscar Freire.
His assessment carries plenty of weight since he’s won three world championships. Nearly everyone who has ridden the road race course says it will finish in a sprint and perhaps even a bunch.
Friere rode the Tour of Denmark just to preview the route. “I took part in the Tour of Denmark this year to check out the road race course,” Freire told DHnet. “I saw that it was easy. There’s only one climb, and that the finishing straight. So it could be a sprint finish.”
Another Dane, former HTC-Highroad DS Brian Holm also road the course and pronounced it perfect for Cavendish and Gilbert. He issued the caveat that 17 laps around the 13.9 course will sap everyone, that one hill seventeen times.
“The finish looks perfect for Hushovd,” said Freire. “But don’t forget that even on a course like this one, Gilbert can be very dangerous.” The Spanish rider pronounced himself confident that he will be there to contest the win. In fact, he’s hoping the weather gets worse to improve his chances. Not likely, the forecast is sunny and on the cool side.
Gilbert has downplayed his chances because, really, he’s not actually very good, right? Then there’s Hushovd who was left off the Garmin-Cervelo Vuelta squad because Jonathan Vaughters is done with Thor.
Oscar the Cat has had a long, successful career and always seems to bring his best to the World Championships. We’d say his best years were behind him but every time we do that, he wins another race.
The top contenders should certainly fear Hushovd and Gilbert. They should also fear Oscar Freire. He might just have one more trick in the bag.