Scary thought from Volta ao Algarve: Philippe Gilbert is wide awake.
The massively talented Belgian launched a well-timed attack in the final kilometer and finished five second ahead of the charging masses. Yeah, he’s awake and if you’re Tom Boonen or Fabian Cancellara or any rider hoping to win a early season classic, that’s terrible news.
Gilbert generally comes out of hibernation slowly, saving his best work for later. In 2010, he snapped up two Vuelta stages, the Tour of Lombardia to close things out.
This year the Omega Pharma-Lotto rider planned an early start and the results are already in. Spooky stuff. Because an on-form and aggressive Gilbert is a tough, confident adversary.
The race coverage used the amusing word “escape” to describe Gilbert’s winning move. Escape, as in slip away, surprise anyone, do something unexpected? When you’re Gilbert, nobody is fooled when you make your move. No, he powered away, brute strength, no surprise or escape involved.
Gilbert’s victory put the Belgian in the leader’s jersey — factor in the time bonuses and he leads Gerald Ciolek (Quickstep) by nine seconds and teammate Greipel by 11 seconds overall.
In other news, the favorite rider of the Spanish Cyclists Protection Agency, Alberto Contador rolled in 28th. No congratulatory tweet from the Spanish Prime Minister. UCI President Patrick McQuaid is over in Oman helpless and howling mad. “The impact is there and there is nothing I can do about it,” said McQuaid. Howling in the desert — something ironic about that.
By the way, still no news on the B-sample of Spain’s other alleged doper Ezequiel Mosquera. The UCI admits that “problems” have arisen. A classic case of understatement: Contador off free as a bird, Mosquera still in limbo, Ricco in critical condition, Pellizotti waiting to battle at CAS.
Sorry, forgot to mention Valverde at training camp and Di Luca back from suspension a year early. Oh, and new claims of a UCI lawsuit against Floyd Landis. The head of ASO, Christian Prudhomme wants know who won the 2010 Tour de France before the start of the next one. (Maybe, maybe not.) Hard to keep up with all the dope. We defy anyone to name another professional sport with more embarrassing problems.
Then again, we have Gilbert in the Algarve. Let’s hope great racing can help all cycling fans to “escape” the rest of the dark news. Thank God for Gilbert.