'All the pressure was on him': Philippe Gilbert impressed by Kasper Asgreen’s form ahead of Paris-Roubaix

Danish rider finished seventh for Soudal Quick-Step after Patrick Lefevere called for riders to ‘save team’s honour’

Kasper Asgreen at the E3 Classic 2023
(Image credit: Getty Images)

Belgian cycling legend Philippe Gilbert has praised Soudal Quick-Step’s Kasper Asgreen ahead of this Sunday’s Paris-Roubaix, and believes he can continue to build on his form at the ‘Hell of the North’.

Speaking to Cycling Weekly, Gilbert- a former winner of both the Tour of Flanders and Paris-Roubaix - explained that he was impressed by Asgreen’s Ronde van Vlaanderen performance, and believes it’s a good sign ahead of the final cobbled Monument of the Spring.

“Asgreen had a great race, of course,” Gilbert said. “After the huge crash happened because of the Bahrain rider, the race was finished for Lampaert and Alaphilippe. They were caught in the crash and suffered from it, and they never recovered.”

Coming into the Tour of Flanders, Soudal Quick-Step had struggled for form throughout the current Classics campaign.

In a press conference before ‘De Ronde’, Patrick Lefevere, the team’s general manager, called for the likes of Julian Alaphilippe, Kasper Asgreen and their teammates to “save the team’s honour”.

After spending much of the day in the breakaway before ultimately finishing seventh, Asgreen put in a solid performance which would have eased some of the pain amongst the camp after the team failed to make much of an impact this Spring on what was once their playground.  

“I talked to him [Asgreen] after the finish,” Gilbert added. “After the crash, all the pressure was on him. It was great that he could still manage to get away with the group that he did, and get his chance to be in the position to win.”

“I know that when you get deep in the final of either race, your legs are speaking more than anything else.”  

Kasper Asgreen

(Image credit: Getty Images)

Meanwhile, Jumbo-Visma’s Wout van Aert will be able to call upon the support of last year’s Roubaix winner Dylan van Baarle on Sunday.

Having another strong teammate to rely upon will be welcome dby Van Aert, after he slipped out of contention during Flanders after the Kruisberg climb.

Gilbert explained that despite Jumbo-Visma’s dominance this Spring, he feels that Van Aert is racing more conservatively compared to his 2022 Spring campaign. On Opening Weekend last year, Van Aert began his season with a scintillating Omloop Het Nieuwsblad win.

“He’s there, and he still wins like at E3, and is having a great season,” Gilbert said. “But I don’t think he’s the Van Aert that we’re used to seeing. Like when he won last year at Omloop Het Nieuwsblad, he dropped everyone else, and was taking time on ten guys behind him. He was just gaining more time during every kilometre.”

“Now you can see that he’s counting his efforts a bit more, and things like that.”
Watch Legend: Philippe Gilbert on GCN+ via the GCN+ App, Smart TV or any web browser. Philippe will be providing in-race analysis from the back of a motorbike throughout Eurosport GCN coverage of the Grand Tours, available live and on demand (territory restrictions apply). 

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