10. Philippe Gilbert
35, Belgium, Quick-Step Floors
2017 wins: 4
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Two second places in Dwars Door Vlaanderen and E3 Harelbeke, and overall victory in the Three Days of De Panne showed that Philippe Gilbert was in good form for his first Tour of Flanders since returning to Quick-Step Floors, but most still expected him to be on domestique duty as Tom Boonen went in search of one last Flanders win.
Gilbert’s pace forced a large group – including Boonen – clear on the Muur van Geraardsbergen, before Gilbert again hit the front hard on the Oude Kwaremont in what, at the time at least, looked like an extremely foolhardy solo move.
However the Belgian champion pressed on with his move, forcing others to chase behind as the kilometers ticked down.
However that didn’t take any of the shine off a brilliant ride, with Gilbert having time to dismount and hold his bike aloft as he walked across the finish line in Oudenaarde at the end of a 55km solo move that will go down in the annals of Tour of Flanders history.
The long-awaited Flanders victory wasn’t the only jewel in the 35-year-old’s year though, as he capped off the spring returning victoriously to the place he’s shone most through his career, at the Amstel Gold Race.
With the traditional Cauberg finish no longer in place, Gilbert was able to beat a form man in Michal Kwiatkowski to take a fourth victory in the Ardennes Classic.
A stage victory followed in the Tour de Suisse shortly after, before the former world champion showed he was back to his glittering best with a valuable domestique ride at the Tour de France.