Canada high for Gilbert
Philippe Gilbert ensured he will end the year ranked as the number one rider after an impressive victory in the GP de Quebec.
By Jonathan Turner
Last Updated: 11/09/11 1:54pm
Philippe Gilbert ensured he will end the year as the number one rider on the WorldTour rankings after an impressive victory in the Grand Prix Cycliste de Quebec.
The first of two WorldTour events in Canada this week, the 201.6 kilometres race featured 16 circuits around picturesque Quebec City.
And it was on the penultimate lap that the race really came to life as Belgian champion Gilbert kicked clear and opened up a clear gap on the rest.
The Omega Pharma-Lotto rider was 15 seconds clear when the bell sounded for the final lap but a chase group of nine began to form behind and with 9km remaining Gilbert sat up and joined forces with them for the finale.
It soon became apparent that the winner was going to come from that select front group as what was left of the peloton after completing 15 punishing circuits was already over half a minute behind.
And having regrouped Gilbert attacked again on the climb up the Côte de la Potasse and only Robert Gesink (Rabobank) was able to stay in touch.
Gesink came tantalisingly close to getting back on level terms but further surges from Gilbert, first on the Montée de la Fabrique and then on the final drag up to the line, just saw him across the line in front.
Gesink was a gallant runner-up only a second behind, while Rigoberto Urán stayed on strongly for third for Team Sky, a further nine seconds back.
On top of the world
"It was a tough race throughout and difficult to win but it means so much to me to catch Cadel Evans and take that number one spot," said a delighted Gilbert afterwards.
"I wasn't sure of exactly what strategy to take but in the end it was a case of just attacking and going for it.
"That stretched it and then when it came back together on the last circuit I was able to find extra energy and accelerate again on the final climb and it proved successful.
"It was important for me - I told everyone I was here to win and I'm so pleased I've been able to achieve all my objectives."