Philippe Gilbert: “We feel ready for Flanders”
Our squad – who leads the World Tour team standings – will go into Sunday's race with several cards to play and motivated to get another victory.
One of the few riders in history to have won three different Monuments – Ronde van Vlaanderen being the latest on the list – Philippe Gilbert showed his good form in the past two weeks by finishing second at E3 Harelbeke and driving the elite group at a ferocious pace just two days later, in Gent-Wevelgem. After skipping Dwars door Vlaanderen, where teammate Yves Lampaert soloed to victory, to spend some time at home, the reigning De Ronde champion rejoined the team for one of his main goals of the year.
"I recovered after Gent-Wevelgem, and even though the sensations aren't the same as last year, the feeling is good and I am confident and ready. We always take the responsability and do our job, pushing the race in the direction we want. Of course, it will be difficult to control the race in seven, especially in the first hour which is always very stressful, but we are confident in the team's strength. At the end of the day, the most important thing will be for our squad to take the victory."
As if the 267 kilometers and 18 punishing climbs of the race weren't enough, the forecast for Sunday says cold temperatures, rain and strong wind, all factors which are more than sure to impact on how things will unfold. Regardless of the conditions, Quick-Step Floors' CEO Patrick Lefevere is confident the team has what it takes to pull it off for the second consecutive year.
"I don't think I need to repeat how strong we are, we already proved this season that we are one team and everyone knows what he has to do. We have several riders capable of winning this race and we don't need to control the others, they have to control us. Last year, when we attacked on the Muur, people said we were crazy, but we showed that it wasn't a reckless move. We have different scenarios in mind, the riders are focused on their job and hopefully one of these will bring us great joy at the end of the day."
Quick-Step Floors for Ronde van Vlaanderen: Tim Declercq, Philippe Gilbert, Iljo Keisse, Yves Lampaert, Florian Sénéchal, Zdenek Stybar, Niki Terpstra.
Photo credit: ©Tim De Waele/ Getty Images