At an eventful Omloop Het Nieuwsblad 2018, Quick-Step Floors team was found unprepared for the finale. Only Zdenek Stybar was present at the pointy end of the race while Philippe Gilbert finished in the sprint. Fifth place finish for a classics winner like him is a little under par, but Gilbert’s progress was impacted today buy a crash in a crucial moment.
“I was a little behind on the Grammont and I was struck by a fall – he explains – I was forced to stop for a few seconds. At that point I had no choice, I stayed in a group and I waited. We managed to organize ourselves and we gained 350 meters. I got myself over the finish line, but it does not matter since it was not for the win”.
In a “race hampered by the wind” in which “it was not easy to make a difference”, the former world champion was the first of the big names to try something while the finish line was still far away. “Many teams were aiming to finish in a sprint – he added – nothing happened and we went at a steady pace. I wanted to try something. But today it was really a tough race, the cold was terrible and the lungs hurt when put under stress”.
A particularly frustrating race for Gilbert. “Nothing positive, nothing negative as we say to the media” a comment undeniably lilted with some regret.