Gilbert's Oz Tour hopes dim

2013-01-23 11:43
Philippe Gilbert (AFP)

Adelaide - World road race champion Philippe Gilbert's hopes of winning the Tour Down Under are all but over after he was involved in a crash near the end of the second stage on Wednesday.

Gilbert was part of a leading group attempting to reel in eventual winner Geraint Thomas on a fast downhill stretch just after the summit of Corkscrew Hill, five kilometres from the finish line when the accident occurred.

The Belgian was not badly injured, but he needed his teammates to push him over the line after his bike's gear mechanism broke, meaning he could not pedal.

He eventually finished 2min 49sec behind Thomas, leaving him in 61st overall in the race for an overall win.

"The crash was right after a corner and we didn't see it, it surprised us and we couldn't avoid it," Gilbert said.

"They were lying on half of the road and when you come across them like that, you just go straight into them."

With four stages remaining, Gilbert will need a huge stroke of luck to get back into contention for the first title of the 2013 WorldTour season.

Thomas was not discounting Gilbert's chances, saying Thursday's difficult 139km stage from Unley to Stirling provided an opportunity to break away.

"I think he can always get it back on Thursday," Thomas said. "If the right group goes away it's hard to control.

"I think he'll be keen to still get a stage win but there are plenty of dangerous guys around."


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