Can Chris Froome win La Vuelta? Not according to Philippe Gilbert.
The Lotto-Soudal rider spoke to Eurosport ahead of the start of the Spanish Grand Tour, and offered his prediction for a winner of the GC.
Who will win La Vuelta this year?
"It’s hard to say but I think [Primoz] Roglic has a big chance, especially after losing the Tour," Gilbert said. "Even if he did show a lot of disappointment, he still has a lot inside himself.
"I know the big champions like him can turn this into extra motivation and I’m sure he will go back there and defend it as number one with a lot more motivation and aggression than he showed when trying to win the Tour.
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"I’m sure he will turn up with a reset mind after the Tour thinking ‘okay I missed that chance, but now I go full for La Vuelta and I want to win a Grand Tour again’.
"I know him a little bit and I know that’s what he’s going to do.”
What can Chris Froome do at La Vuelta?
"I don’t think Froome is ready for the GC," Gilbert said.
I think people easily forget the crash he had 18 months or so ago now. I still believe it’s a miracle he’s already racing and doing what he’s doing now.
"But honestly, it’s going to be hard for him to challenge the best at a two or three week race.”
Can you comment on Mark Cavendish’s situation?
"For me when we think about Cavendish, I always have the sprint at Milan-San Remo in mind. It was so impressive to see him and Heinrich Haussler, because Haussler came from far back and surprised everyone and Cav was just coming around. It was the highest level of sprint.
"And of course, his [Cavendish’s] sprint at the World Championships was great because it was a hectic sprint with a small climb at the end with 400 or 500m uphill and he still managed to win. For me, I really remember these two images of Mark Cavendish clearly.
"I think Cav deserves a better end. It’s been a few years since he’s been struggling now. I was hoping to see him win and end on a win and it will be a nice image. I hope he will find another team or contract that is better than it is now. I think he deserves it."
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