Team boss weighing up options for Ardennes Classics before making decision
Quick-Step has Gilbert on their long list of 12 men and is due to decide on the final eight-man roster shortly. Initially, the team planned on the Belgian champion racing Flanders, skipping Paris-Roubaix, and racing again in Brabantse Pijl on April 12 ahead of the Ardennes Classics.
“I’d prefer to see Phil in the Brabantse Pijl and the Ardennes classics,” team boss Patrick Lefevere told Het Nieuwsblad.
“I know Phil wants to give something back in Tom Boonen’s farewell race, but I view it in the longer term. We need to see the total picture before we put the eight names on paper.”
Boonen will lead the Quick-Step team into his last race as a professional before retiring on Sunday. He already won in the famous Roubaix velodrome on four occasions and is now looking for a record fifth victory.
The other names in Quick-Step’s roster should include 2014 winner Niki Terpstra, Zdenek Stybar, Matteo Trentin, Yves Lampaert and Iljo Keisse.
“I’ll hold a roundtable discussion on Paris-Roubaix selection today with the team managers,” Lefevere continued.
“The most beautiful scenario would be a fifth cobble trophy for Tom Boonen, but it’s also fine by me if one of the other seven win.”
Watch: Paris-Roubaix 2017 essential guide
Gilbert has only raced Paris-Roubaix on one occasion (in 2007), and has concentrated on the Ardennes Classics since 2012 with his former team BMC Racing allowing Greg Van Avermaet to have sole leadership for the cobbled classics.
Quick-Step, after signing him this winter, have given him a chance to return to the cobbles.
He placed second in Dwars door Vlaanderen and E3 Harelbeke, won the Three Days of De Panne and on Sunday, the Tour of Flanders.
Gilbert already has three of the five monument titles with Flanders, Liège-Bastogne-Liège in 2011 and the Giro di Lombardia in 2009 and 2010. Racing Roubaix would allow him a chance to add a fourth.
“It’s always been a dream, I have always been speaking about this for a long time now, winning all the monuments,” Gilbert said Sunday.
“I still have two to add with Roubaix and Milan-San Remo, but the good thing is it’s not my last year so I still have time.”
Gilbert explained that he wants to decide immediately and “not think anymore about” whether or not he will race Paris-Roubaix.
“The last time I did it was 10 years ago, it’s the only time,” Gilbert added. “I don’t have any experience in this race.”