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It may be entirely coincidental but today’s announcement that Philippe Gilbert will miss the Tour de France due to a previously-undiagnosed fracture comes three days after the Belgian rider spoke with frustration about the BMC Racing Team’s dragging of heels in relation to selecting him for the Tour team.
Speaking to Het Laatste Nieuws and Het Nieuwsblad, Gilbert said that he still wasn’t sure at that point if he would be given a green light for the Tour. He had won two stages in the Giro d’Italia and felt he should have done more than enough, but instead was still waiting to know.
“Do I need to prove myself more?” he asked rhetorically, speaking at the Tour de Suisse.
“I come here actually without motivation at the start. It is difficult to recharge yourself if you do not see your programme. I do not know if the team wants me there at the Tour. I find this very bizarre and I do not understand the approach of BMC.”
The team was due to announce its Tour de France lineup after the Tour de Suisse. Gilbert argued he should have done more than enough to be told he was going to the race.
“I won two stages in the Giro, where I went uphill better than ever and I got pretty fresh to the finish in Milan. My focussed work continued in recent weeks. My condition is top notch.”
He said it would be disappointing if he would need to prove himself further in the Tour de Suisse, saying that he was not a neo-pro and hoped the team would accept he had done enough.
He added that he believed he could contribute to the team’s success at the French race.
“In the first week of the Tour there are many opportunities for me. I want to try to win a stage and, who knows, even take the yellow jersey. Anyway, I will here in Switzerland trying to show that I am good.”
Another factor to be considered is team-mate Tejay van Garderen’s strong showing in the Critérium du Dauphiné. He wore the yellow jersey for several stages and ended the race second overall on Sunday, boosting the team’s belief that he can be a podium contender in the Tour.
Gilbert’s Tour ambitions evaporated Tuesday when the BMC Racing Team announced that a MRI had pinpointed a previously undetected fracture, most likely dating back to the Flèche Wallonne Classic in April.
In that release, the team’s president and general manager Jim Ochowicz said that the team wanted to select eight riders it considered would best help van Garderen’s chances.