CyclingPub Feature - Philippe Gilbert discusses Strade Bianche, current shape, extreme heat and reduction of team size for Milano-Sanremo
Jul 31 2020 11:52 pm CET

CyclingPub Feature - Philippe Gilbert discusses Strade Bianche, current shape, extreme heat and reduction of team size for Milano-Sanremo
CyclingPub Feature - Philippe Gilbert discusses Strade Bianche, current shape, extreme heat and reduction of team size for Milano-Sanremo
Photo of Philippe Gilbert (c)Lotto Soudal

Philippe Gilbert (Lotto Soudal) is prepared for the restart of the WorldTour season in Strade Bianche, a race that will be very different from the years before.

The white streets of Tuscany will once again be the main part of the so-called "Sixth Monument" and this time they will present new challenges for the riders as extreme temperatures are expected for the race. The already iconic images of mud and cold will be replaced by dust and heat for the 2020 edition of the race, which will be raced in the middle of the summer and not at the start of the spring as usual due to the Covid-19 pandemic.

With the unusual season that the world of professional cycling is living, the shape of the riders at this point without racing after five months is unknown, but Gilbert thinks everybody is feeling better than after the winter breaks. "We've been doing a lot of training and the condition is much better than at the start of the season and I think it is the same feeling for everyone," the former World Champion explained.

"After the winter it's never the same and now everyone is fit, everyone is skinny, I mean for the ones I've seen. You always go faster when you're like this, I really expect high level racing in the next days."

The weather forecast predicts temperatures ranging from 33 to 37 degrees for Tuscany for the race and Gilbert and his team are preparing for this situation. "We've been speaking with the team actually about having as many people as possible next to the road to give bottles because that's going to be the key," he said.

"In the recon we saw that we were drinking like three to four bottles for sixty kilometres. On this race it is impossible to go back to the car, we really need a lot of support from the side of the road. I think if you miss one or two bottles your race can be over because you overheat and if you overheat your body will never recover with this extreme temperature."

At the start of 2020, the Belgian mentioned Milano-Sanremo as one of his objectives as it is the only Monument missing from his palmares. Although, this keeps being his plan, he doesn't agree with the measures taken by RCS Sport to reduce each team from seven to six riders for the upcoming edition of the race.

"It is an important race for me and I will try to win this race like a lot of riders I guess," Gilbert affirmed. "But this choice is really strange and it is going to be difficult because one rider less makes a big difference. We have to know that we already come from eight to seven in the big Classics and that was already a big change and now going from seven to six is really the limit of the possible way of racing.

"I think the next step is just to say 'okay, we'll just become an individual sport and we stop with teams' because with less than six there is no reason to be a team any more."

By Mary Cárdenas




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