In all the media noise about the fact that superstar and BMC rich man Philippe Gilbert has no form and no results, maybe one consequence has been overlooked.
In all the stories about fellow star Thor Hushovd and his non-performance in the cobblestone classics thanks to sickness, one inevitable corollary may have been missed.
It’s not good news for current Tour de France champion Cadel Evans and his hope of repeating that triumph.
The situation with Gilbert and Hushovd has to do with deferred gratification and postponed goals. With no results to speak off and the pressure building, the goals shift to later in the season and that’s a potential headache and hitch for Evans and his Tour plans.
On paper and in theory and in official rosy communication from BMC headquarters, Gilbert and Hushovd are riding in support of Evans. However, if Gilbert is unable to pull himself together for a win or podium in the upcoming Ardennes races, he’s going to be under incredible pressure to deliver something. Look at the race calendar in July and his only option is a stage win in the Tour de France.
It’s the same story for Thor Hushovd. We don’t know his exact objectives in April and May but come the summer if he’s still in the same situation he is after Flanders and Paris-Roubaix, he’ll have to win a race somewhere. That high profile win would most likely be in France.
The down side of superstars and big egos is that given their massive talents, they’re not good at playing a secondary role. They’re all for teamwork when the team revolves around them. While they’re both classy riders who have insisted that Evans is the priority in the Tour, a lack of results puts Thor and Philippe in a tough spot.
A Tour de France stage win fixes a lot of problems and disappointments. Last year Hushovd came into Le Tour after having been forced by Garmin team tactics to sit on Fabian Cancellara’s wheel while his beanpole domestique Johan Van Summeren won Paris-Roubaix. Hushovd turned his season around with two stage wins in France and a few days in yellow.
We have no idea how the Gilbert-Hushovd-Evans French shotgun marriage will play out. But given the lack of results, it seems only human that the odds of ignoring BMC team directives for the Tour have just gone up. If Gilbert leaves the Ardennes empty handed, don’t expect him to play worker bee for Evans.