Philippe Gilbert will not participate in the Tour de France 2019 for Deceuninck-Quick-Step, says French newspaper L’Equipe.
The 36-year-old, winner of Paris-Roubaix in April, will reportedly be a reserve rider for the Belgian team which will focus around Elia Viviani for the sprints and Julian Alaphilippe for mountain stages and his defence of the polka-dot jersey. They have yet to formally confirm their Tour line-up.
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Gilbert, who has ridden nine Tours in his career, is out of contract with the team at the end of 2019 having joined them from BMC Racing in 2017.
He’s been an integral part of the team’s Classics line-up and has delivered a number of major results for them, including wins at the Tour of Flanders and Amstel Gold Race in 2017, before a fifth Monument victory at Paris-Roubaix this season.
Gilbert has not completed a Tour for the team since he joined them however, abandoning ahead of stage 16 in 2017 and ahead of stage 17 last year, having completed the previous day’s mountain stage despite crashing and suffering a broken knee.
The former world champion will not get the chance to start the Tour from his home nation’s capital, Brussels, though says L’Equipe, and he has also yet to extend his contract with Deceuninck-Quick-Step.
The team have recently re-signed their star rider Julian Alaphilippe, despite transfer speculation linking him with other WorldTour teams. Zdeněk Štybar is the most recent rider to sign an extension with Patrick Lefevere’s squad, confirming his stay with the team for a further two seasons.
Gilbert is not the only rider yet to commit their future to the team though, with Elia Viviani out of contract at the end of the season and potentially fancied by a number of teams considering his consistent performances for the past two seasons.
The team have struggled financially in recent years though and have been unable to commit huge sums of money to boosting rider salaries. Unsure of a new title sponsor before Deceuninck stepped, in Lefevere was forced to let Paris-Roubaix and Tour of Flanders winner Niki Terpstra join Direct Energie after the Dutchman’s contract expired.
Quick-Step took four stage wins at the Tour last year and will hope to do even better this year, with a team that’s likely to also inclide Spanish climbing talent Enric Mas as well as Viviani and and Alaphilippe.
The Tour de France begins on July 6 in Brussels and ends on July 28 in Paris.