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Philippe Gilbert, the reigning Paris-Roubaix champion and 2017 Tour of Flanders winner, is expected to miss the rescheduled Cobbled Classics this season due to knee pain.
Gilbert and his Lotto-Soudal team announced on Thursday that he would be pulling out of the BinckBank Tour due to lingering pain from his crash at the Tour de France.
“My first priority now is to heal completely and to come back stronger to chase my goals next year,” he wrote on Instagram.
Gilbert went down in a rain-slicked stage 1 of the Tour on August 29 and suffered a broken kneecap, which forced him to abandon the race just one day in. He returned to racing at the Tour de Luxembourg, but has felt increased pain recently.
“Maybe I started again too soon, but the rehab was going well, the motivation and morale were still there, and I really wanted to race. I resumed in the Tour du Luxembourg and then competed in two more one-day races, but I still felt pain,” Gilbert said in a team press release. “This pain became more prominent in the first stage of the BinckBank Tour. I then realized that I couldn’t be at my best at the Tour of Flanders and at Paris-Roubaix. These races are even more demanding on the body, the body must be 200% ready.”
Gilbert did not rule out returning to racing before the end of the season. Although he expects to miss two of his biggest targets, he left open the possibility that he might race the Vuelta a España, where he has won seven stages in his career.
“My first priority is to heal completely,” he said. “I still have a lot of goals in cycling, for next season certainly, but very maybe for this season as well. Hopefully a Tour of Spain participation is still playable, but that’s not yet relevant. What matters now is a full recovery. “