Sunday, 18 October 2009

Philippe Gilbert and Silence Lotto

I have long been a fan of Gilbert and have admired his gustsy riding style which is reminestant of days before power metres and HRM's. So often he has shot his bolt to early and shown all of his cards and not won a race that he should have. Many, including I, wondered how the move to Silence Lotto would pan out. On FDJ he was King and sat alone on top of the castle. Going to Silence he would have to share that lofty spot with other riders that could also dominate in the same races he enjoys. On balance it has proved to be a good move and when others have not been able to step up to the plate he has been there or there abouts to show the Team colours.

In the last two weeks he has won four races, in itself no big deal, Cavendish does this on demand. What is impressive is the range of races he has won, showing his all round class that has always been there, but now he has delivered the goods. Silence Lotto had a tough Spring Classics season. Coming close at Flanders, where Philippe finished 3rd, and although having two riders in the decisive breakaway in Roubaix, it ended up with nothing but dissapointment and heartache for the Team. The Ardennes Classics showed glimpes of what may have been, but again failed to deliver a podium spot for the Team, so close but no champagne. The TdF came and went and Evans was unable to explain his lack of form after being a major contendor in the last two years.

Time to regroup and a new focus came over them, Evans new he had a chance at the Worlds course. In some ways Evans makes a better short stage race/hilly Classics rider than an all out GC rider. The years of racing solo as a mountian bike rider translate better to these races and in my mind is where he should concentrate. Maybe it's the UCI's fault in removing the old World Cup competition is a reson that many don't want to pin their colours to the mast as there is nothing to aim for. The Pro Tour Series leader jersey has failed to capture the riders imagination in the same way as the outgoing competition. Winners of the World Cup read like a who's who of cycling and in my oinion was a better measure of the best rider that season.

So Evans went on to win a great World Champion's jersey, in a style which showed to me the Evans pre road cycling. The guy who believed in him self and made all of his rivals fear the explosive power and surge of speed he has (last seen, ergh let me think, that's it while at Mapei). I hope that he breaks the curse that seems to fall on the jersey holder. Because this is only a recent thing, in years gone past the holder of the jersey would go onto win some great victories wearing the most coverted of all jerseys.

Evans is now basking in the respect given to the World Champion, and this has given birth to a new man. Unlike many he has become a 'star and water carrier' and Gilbert's victories over the last two weeks owe some debt to Evan's performance for the cause. Having the World Champion in your Team lifts you beyond and above any doubts of the previous months nearlys and almost ran situations.

I am pleased for the Silence Lotto outfit. Unlike Quick Step who attain rock star status whenever they show up (especially in Belgium), Silence are a little more B list in comparison. This won't be the case next year as the weight of expectation will be heavy on their shoulders. I hope that they are able to cast them off and soar to new heights. Marc Sergeant will go into the winter being to plan for next year filled with optimism and hope for good results, happy days.

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