Philippe Gilbert: 'I've been in Sagan's situation... you've just got to ride smarter and stronger'

Gilbert says he empathises with Sagan's situation, but says he shouldn't be so vocal in his complaints

Philippe Gilbert and Peter Sagan at the 2018 E3 Harelbeke (Sunada)
(Image credit: Yuzuru SUNADA)

Peter Sagan (Bora-Hansgrohe) should just race smarter and stronger, and complain less, says former world champion and rival Philippe Gilbert.

Gilbert is part of the mighty Quick-Step Floors team that won the Tour of Flanders on Sunday with Niki Terpstra. Afterwards, Sagan complained that no one would work with him to pull back Terpstra.

>>> Quick-Step Floors announce their usual phenomenally strong Paris-Roubaix team

"I wouldn't say anything," Gilbert said when asked what he would do in Sagan's situation.

"I was already in that situation in 2011, when everyone was riding against you. But it's that way, you just have to be smarter and stronger and make it happen."

Quick-Step Floors will race the Paris-Roubaix with 2014 winner Terpstra, Zdenek Stybar, Yves Lampaert and Gilbert as leaders.

Sagan complained about his rivals Greg Van Avermaet (BMC Racing), Tiesj Benoot (Lotto-Soudal) and Sep Vanmarcke (EF Education First-Drapac) not working in unison to pull back Terpstra. Earlier this week, retired Classics star Tom Boonen explained that Sagan should keep his mouth shut.

Peter Sagan chases on at the 2018 Tour of Flanders (Sunada)
(Image credit: Yuzuru SUNADA)

"I think now he's just angry and says some things, but that's not what he really means. He's a really good guy and I'm sure we can see him in the final. And I hope to race against him in the final," Gilbert said.

"There's not much to say about thede comments. In Belgium, we already gave him three world titles. We rode for him three times in the worlds. There's nothing more to say.

"It's like this in every race, you try to win, and some times you lose. There is only one winner, and he is the only happy guy in the bunch."

With Terpstra free at 26 kilometres to race, the rest of Quick-Step Floors went into lock-down mode. Gilbert sat on Sagan's rear wheel any time Sagan tried to move free.

"The problem is that with Quick-Step, we have many guys in the final and we also block the race. It's really difficult to race when you have a team united like this," said Gilbert.

"You saw that in the past with HTC, it was kind of the same. They were winning a lot. They would have guys in the breaks and then the best sprinters behind waiting. It's the best tactic.

"I don't have to give any advice to give Peter. He's one of the best riders in history. He's showed that many times.

"I have a lot of respect for Peter. He's a big rider, he makes a show in the race. He likes to attack and wins with panache. That's why we like him."

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Gregor Brown

Gregor Brown is an experienced cycling journalist, based in Florence, Italy. He has covered races all over the world for over a decade - following the Giro, Tour de France, and every major race since 2006. His love of cycling began with freestyle and BMX, before the 1998 Tour de France led him to a deep appreciation of the road racing season.