Belgian national road and time trial champion Philippe Gilbert will join the BMC Racing Team for the 2012 season, further bolstering a roster that will include the reigning Tour de France champion and a number of past world road champions.
Will Play Several Roles. BMC Racing Team President/General Manager Jim Ochowicz said Gilbert – currently UCI world-ranked No. 2 to future teammate Cadel Evans – is a gifted athlete who brings an immense amount of talent to the team.
“He will act as one of our leaders during the classics and other races throughout the season,” Ochowicz said. “His power and tenacity will play a big role in support of Cadel’s defense of his Tour de France title. Additionally, his experience will be shared in a mentorship role to the younger riders on the team like Taylor Phinney and Greg Van Avermaet as they continue to develop their skills in the classics.” Details of Gilbert’s three-year contract are not being disclosed.
Clear Objectives. Already this season, Gilbert has won more than a dozen races, including the first stage of the Tour de France and a host of one-day classics, including Liège-Bastogne-Liège, Flèche Wallonne, Amstel Gold and Clasica San Sebastian. What attracted him to the BMC Racing Team, he said, was its early interest – before he started winning.
“They were interested in me from the beginning,” Gilbert said. “Plus, I know the team well. They are well-organized, very professional and a close group.” Gilbert said he is most looking forward to helping at the Tour de France, which starts next year in his home country. “My objectives are clear: to go for the one-day classics and then go to the Tour to learn and help Cadel,” he said. “Next year with the start in Liege, it’s close to my home. So I will try to win a stage and then help Cadel win the Tour.”
Evans Excited. Evans said he is excited by the prospect of having a former teammate help him make a run at a second straight Tour de France title. “I’m happy to be back with one of my old teammates,” Evans said. “We’ve always remained friends, but now we get to be teammates again and that’s fantastic,” Evans said. “I suspect I’ll be a domestique in the Ardennes week, but I look forward to it and it will be a pleasure.” Joining Gilbert on the BMC Racing Team next year will be reigning world road champion Thor Hushovd, whose signing was announced last week.