'Gilbert is better than Merckx' says Merckx

Philippe Gilbert wins Fleche Wallonne 2011

As the countdown continues towards Liege-Bastogne-Liege on Easter Sunday - the last of the Spring Classics - Eddy Merckx has given a big thumbs-up to top favourite Philippe Gilbert (Omega Pharma-Lotto).

"I'm really impressed by what he's done, what he's done so far is better than Merckx!" ‘The Cannibal' told the Belgian press.

"At Amstel, it was Gilbert who led the chase behind Andy Schleck (Leopard Trek) before he attacked himself, but in Fleche he was even more impressive because he had nothing in his favour."

"The bunch was far bigger than usual at the foot of the Mur and the climbers were all very confident that they would get a result."

"But instead, Gilbert attacked at 400 metres from the line and blew them all away."

"He waited for his best moment and that's easy to say afterwards with the benefit of hindsight, but in cycling choosing the best moment to attack isn't so easy."

Merckx said he was confident that Gilbert would win at Liege on Sunday, "and that won't be a cherry on top of the Easter cake. It'll be the Eiffel Tower!"

Related links

Liege-Bastogne-Liege: The Big Preview

Spring Classics 2011: Cycling Weekly's coverage index