Belgian rider craving a return to the cobbles as he aims for victories in the Tour of Flanders and Paris-Roubaix

Philippe Gilbert (BMC) says that he is eager to ride the cobbled classics in 2015, and would even sacrifice his chances in the likes of Liege-Bastogne-Liege and the Amstel Gold Race to do well in the Tour of Flanders and Paris-Roubaix.

The former world champion hasn’t raced either of the two cobbled monuments since finishing 75th at Flanders in 2012, and wants to prepare by riding semi-classics Kuurne-Brussels-Kuurne and Omloop Het Nieuwsblad, having won the latter twice in 2006 and 2008.

“I crave to go back to the Flemish Classics. I would like to race at Omloop and Kuurne,” he told Het Laatste Nieuws. “I miss those races.”

Gilbert’s strength lies in the Ardennes classics more than the cobbles, having won all three in a week in 2011, but a modest record in the cobbled races, where two third places in Flanders in ’09 and ’10 stand as his best results, mean that even Gilbert is doubful of whether he can win all of cycling’s monuments.

“My dream is to win every classic at least once. I just have Milan-San Remo, Tour of Flanders and Paris-Roubaix (remaining).” he said.

“I would even sacrifice Liege-Bastogne-Liege to specifically prepare for Roubaix. In those (Ardennes) Classics I score major WorldTour points but I cannot guarantee this at Flanders and Roubaix.”

Valerios Piva, director at Gilbert’s team BMC Racing, says he isn’t keen on the idea of the 32-year-old leading the team at the cobbled classics, a role which was successfully held this year by his compatriot Greg Van Avermaet, who tooks second at both Omloop Het Nieuwsblad and the Tour of Flanders.

Piva said he admired Gilbert’s ambition to complete all the classics, but added that it isn’t as easy now to successfully race every one-day race as it used to be.

“Philippe’s calendar has not been defined but I am not in favour of this plan,” he said. “It is good that he wants to compete in anytime, anywhere but this is modern cycling and it isn’t possible.”

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