Home > News

Gilbert wins his second De Brabantse Pijl

Philippe Gilbert (Belgium/BMC) returned to winning ways on Tuesday by taking a reduced bunch sprint in the 54th De Brabantse Pijl in the Brabant area of Belgium. The race is considered a Flanders Classic. Also known as La Fleche Brabançonne and the Brabant Arrow, it’s also the first Ardennes Classic but not a WorldTour race; therefore, the field was dominated by Pro Continental teams.

Pro Continental teams made up the majority of the day’s six-man breakaway too, and the sextet stayed intact until the first of four circuits that ended in Overijse. The peloton closed cut the lead to under three minutes as Garmin-Sharp and then Lotto-Belisol drove the pace. As one escapee dropped out on a hill, two WorldTour Belgians, Jurgen Van den Broeck (Lotto-Belisol) and Julien Vermote (Omega Pharma-QuickStep), sought to bridge over.

Vermote found himself with chase reinforcements as two Omega Pharma riders joined the bridge effort. With 56-km remaining, the breakaway quintet had a 1:55 advantage over the peloton and 38-seconds over the chase. More groups spurted off from the field and with two laps of 24-km to go, the chase was only ahead of a long, strung-out line by a few seconds.

Only one Omega Pharma rider, Pieter Serry (Belgium), was left over from the chase, and he tried with Simon Gerrans (Australia/Orica-GreenEdge) to make the juncture. The duo made it along with a couple of others and inside 40-kms there were chase groups spread all over the road. However, the breakaway now consisted of 10 riders, and they forced a bigger gap. BMC, thinking of their man Gilbert, the 2011 winner, gritted its teeth and led the peloton chase.

At the beginning of the last circuit, the gap was 32-seconds, with the breakaway whittled to six, including Gerrans, Serry, and wily Belgian vet Bjorn Leukemans (Wanty-Groupe Gobert. When the gap was 16-seconds and his were men exhausted, Gilbert bolted but the hook-up eluded him. Gilbert found a strong six-man chase between him and the peloton. The new chase featured recent Pais Vasco stage winner Wout Poels (Omega Pharma). Gilbert finally latched on with 12.5-km to go.

It was all for not, as the orange-clad CCC Polsat team laboured at the front of the peloton to catch the last resisters with 11-km remaining. Various ambitions sprouted at the business end of the group, but they all withered. It would come down to the final climb of the Schavei (350-metres of 5.2%). A strong turn from Giant-Shimano spread out the already reduced peloton, but everyone coasted down a little hill to draw a breath.

The action was hot on the Schavei but Gilbert was able to stave off Gerrans’ teammate and countryman Michael Matthews and Lotto-Belisol’s Tony Gallopin (France) in the final pitch to the line. It’s Gilbert’s first win since a stage triumph in last year’s Vuelta a España.