Monday morning scare: according to BMC Sports Director Allan Peiper, super star Philippe Gilbert is an old school cyclist. “He has never even had a trainer before,” says Peiper. We almost choked on our granola and almond milk.
So, wow, Gilbert has won races like Amstel Gold Race, Flanders, Flèche Wallonne and Liège-Bastogne-Liège on feel, just putting in a ton of base miles and throwing in some occasional threshold work to rev the engine.
That makes Gilbert the anti-Sky, Mr. Zero Sports Science, some kind of throwback Belgian so immensely talented he doesn’t need a trainer. Does he even have a heart rate monitor? Is he still wondering what those SRM gizmos are for? At least we don’t have to worry about Gilbert working with Dr. Ferrari — he doesn’t need the scientific approach, legal or illegal.
Which in the end makes GIlbert even scarier than before. Because imagine how dominant and deadly will he become with a trainer? What if Peiper gives him the full sports science make-over? What if Phil Gil, the rider who torched everyone back in 2010, can return to that form and then go even higher?
The head-snap on Gilbert’s lack of a trainer reminded us of a story three years ago about Francaise des Jeux rider Pierrick Fédrigo. Read this description of Fédrigo’s methodology from trainer Frédéric Grappe: “He doesn’t write down his kilometers nor his training hours. When he makes a performance, he doesn’t know how he was able to do it. When he starts a race, he doesn’t know if he’s good or not. It is only 40 kilometers before the finish, when he checks out the faces of his rivals, that he understands whether he can win. He measures his form by comparison to others, he doesn’t know himself.”
If BMC’s Allan Peiper and his sports science crew have any success with Gilbert, his results for the coming 2014 season might be pretty scary — good scary.