WorldTeam Philippe Gilbert kicks off 19th season as pro at GP La Marseillaise
On Sunday 31 January, Lotto Soudal will start the new cycling season with the 42nd edition of the Grand Prix La Marseillaise. This French one-day race – with both start and finish near Marseille – is due to its hilly course most of all suited to the punchers of the peloton. Philippe Gilbert – who became father this week – is part of a strong seven-rider Lotto Soudal squad and is getting ready for his 19th season as a pro. The 38-year-old Belgian had his share of bad luck last year and is cautious about his personal ambitions for the coming races.
Philippe Gilbert: “Of course, it would be nice to immediately obtain a decent result, but at the moment it is still too early to talk about this. I was able to resume training much later than we had planned and I had to work really hard to reach the level I am currently at. The main goal is to retrieve the good sensations and to further build the shape.”
“I had a really good time at Lotto Soudal training camp in Spain and I worked hard towards the coming season together with the ‘Classic riders’ bubble’. I am now preparing for a French triptych of races with the Grand Prix La Marseillaise, Etoile de Bessèges and Tour de la Provence. I am really happy to start the season in these three hard races with a nice course. Furthermore, the quality of the riders at the start is – partly due to the number of cancellations of other races – really high. I am really looking forward to starting my 19th season as a pro rider and let’s hope the French races can go on as planned”, concludes Gilbert.
Line-up Lotto Soudal GP La Marseillaise: John Degenkolb, Philippe Gilbert, Andreas Kron, Stefano Oldani, Gerben Thijssen, Brent Van Moer and Tim Wellens.