The Belgian’s abandon topped off a day to forget for Lotto-Soudal, who also lost John Degenkolb after the German finished outside the time limit, having also hit the deck during the race.
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“I was riding around position 20 in the peloton when they crashed in front of me”, Philippe Gilbert explained. “I managed to escape that crash. I passed two, three fallen riders and thought I was safe, but then they crashed again, and this time I couldn’t avoid them anymore.
“We were lying there with 10-15 guys…immediately I tried to get up, but that was impossible. I waited there for two minutes, leaning against a guardrail. Then I left on my own without being able to really push on the pedals. In a small group of dropped riders, I managed to finish, without being able to help the others. I was in pain.”
After being seen by a doctor, Gilbert says “it could have been worse” and will thankfully only face two to three weeks off the bike, enough time to hopefully recover for some of the one-day Classics to come.
“What a disappointment for us,” Philippe Gilbert said of his and Degenkolb’s abandon. “We are both riders who love their sport and job. We always have respect for the races, our team and sponsors. We always fight and share the same values.”
Gilbert says his team-mate should have been shown more compassion by the commissaires, after the German battled hard to try and finish inside the time limit.
“I have big respect for what John did, finishing after a nasty crash, 65 kilometres alone and arriving two minutes outside the time limit. John gave everything but got zero respect from the commissaires.
“With the rain and all crashes, at least he deserved the respect to put him inside the time limit, even if afterward he would have been unable to continue. So unacceptable.”