Philippe Gilbert will not be racing in the Tour of Flanders this weekend, according to Lotto-Soudal. The team has stated that the 38-year-old Belgian, who won the race in 2017, will “take physical and mental rest,” and as long as he is looking for a return to the Ardennes, nothing is in stone at this point.
“We decided with the team that I would take a period of rest now because it is not going well at all,” Gilbert said. “It’s been a few weeks now that things haven’t been going well. We took the time to analyse everything there was to discuss and we came to the conclusion that it is a lack of mental and physical freshness.
I think it is due to all the work I did after my crash at the Tour de France last year. I am still human. I put in a lot of work, without any decent rest really, because during the weeks off the bike, I was working hard with the physiotherapist or other specialists. At the time, I’ve had a bad diagnosis of the knee. We didn’t really realize how serious that second crash was. In the end, it was much more serious than we initially thought. Maybe I should have stopped my 2020 season at that point.”
Gilbert noted that he was not noticing improvement in his form after the first few races of the season, and said, “When you find yourself in this stage, the only way to let your body work naturally, is to give it some rest.”