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Philippe Gilbert - I had a good feeling
Sep 24th, 12. Belgium's Philippe Gilbert won the UCI World Championship road race today with an attack up the Cauberg climb in The Netherlands.
He became the fourth World Road Champion on his BMC Racing Team.
Gilbert followed the attack of Italy's Vincenzo Nibali (Liquigas-Cannondale) in the early part of the 1,200m climb before launching his own attack that opened up a gap that grew increasingly large as he topped the summit, 1.7km from the finish line of the 267.4km race.
The double stage winner at the Vuelta a España had enough time to celebrate as he rolled in 4sec ahead of runner-up Edvald Boasson Hagen (Team Sky) of Norway. Alejandro Valverde (Movistar) of Spain was third.
Gilbert follows in the footsteps of the BMC Racing Team's previous World Road Champions: Alessandro Ballan of Italy (2008), Cadel Evans of Australia (2009) and Thor Hushovd of Norway (2010).
The Kiwis had a tough day (read here) with crashes ruling them out of the action.
Gilbert: 'I Had A Good Feeling'
Gilbert credited his Belgian teammates for helping him score the biggest win of his 10-year professional career.
"The whole team did a really good job," he said. "I was well-placed at the bottom of the Cauberg and while I knew I didn't immediately have a huge gap, I had a good feeling because I've won the Amstel Gold Race here. Plus, there was a tailwind, so that was good."
A past Belgian national road and time trial champion, Gilbert was the No. 1 ranked rider in the world in 2011 but had struggled to find the same form this season.
He finished third at Flèche Wallonne in April and scored four Top 10 finishes at the Tour de France before his victories on Stages 9 and 19 at the Vuelta.
Ochowicz: We Supported Each Other
BMC Racing Team President/General Manager Jim Ochowicz, who watched the race on-site in Valkenburg, said Gilbert's victory is a once-in-a-lifetime accomplishment that was many months in the making.
"This showed the faith he had in us, coming to our team, and the faith we had in bringing him on as well," Ochowicz said.
"As a group, we supported each other through sometimes difficult moments. But in the end, being a world champion is one of the greatest rewards that can be bestowed upon an athlete."
Gilbert's world title added to a silver medal he won last Sunday with the BMC Racing Team in the team time trial.
Rihs: 'A Champions Team'
BMC Racing Team sponsor Andy Rihs was also at the race to celebrate and nearly lost his voice cheering Gilbert on to victory.
"It was the dream we hoped about and it happened," he said. "I'm so happy for Philippe. When you have a hope to do something and it happens, it's the best feeling in the world. Nobody is more happy than all the members of the team – the BMC manufacturers and dealers, the riders on the BMC Racing Team and of course, the entire organization. This is such a merited reward. Four world champions in the team. Think about that for a moment. It's a champions team."
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