Belgian champion to rest ahead of Ardennes Classics
Quick-Step Floors team boss Patrick Lefevre had earlier said that his team was leaving all options open when deciding its eight-rider line-up for the Hell of the North, but has now decided not to pick the Belgian champion.
“Immediately after his splendid Flanders win, the temptation of lining up Philippe at the start was big, especially as he too was thinking of this,” Lefevre said.
“But we sat down, thought this through and decided it’s better for him to rest a bit and then return to training for the Ardennes campaign, where his experience and power will be very helpful.”
Watch: Tour of Flanders 2017 highlights
Gilbert’s next race will be the Brabantse Pijl (April 12) before travelling to the Amstel Gold Race, the first of the three Ardennes Classics, on April 17.
The Belgian champion’s last and only appearance in the race was back in 2007, and the decision to leave him out appears to be motivated both by a desire to rest him ahead of the Ardennes Classics, and to provide Tom Boonen with an experienced team in his final race as a professional.
“Paris-Roubaix has a magnetic attraction on me, but I won’t be there this year, Gilbert said. “I need to take a break, recover properly and then begin thinking of the Ardennes, where I’ll be part of a very strong team, together with Julian [Alaphilippe] and Dan [Martin].
“Besides that, I’ve only raced Roubaix once, back in 2007, and for a race like that you need experience. Tom needs all the support he can get in his final attempt there, as a strong team is a very important factor in Paris-Roubaix, and I wish him all the best.”