The COVID-19 pandemic has brought professional cycling to a halt. In the coming weeks we will be reaching out to pro riders and other personalities from the sport to understand how their lives are continuing amidst the shutdown.
Philippe Gilbert is nothing less than the winningest classics rider in activity. All told, the Belgian has won 14 classics including five monuments, as well as the 2012 world championship title. But there is one race above all that the 37-year-old hopes to win before finishing out his career — Milano-Sanremo. If he achieves that goal he will become only the fourth rider in history — along with Eddy Merckx, Roger De Vlaeminck and Rik Van Looy — to win all five monuments. Needless to say the cancellation of La Primavera, along with all of his top classics, was particularly frustrating for Gilbert, who knows that he is closer to the end of his career than the beginning. But like so many cyclists around the world, he has been forced to put his own ambitions on hold, as the world attempts to thwart the coronavirus. We caught up with the amiable Belgian at his home in Monaco, to see what a day in the life was like for the reigning classics king while in confinement.
What are the current regulations for where you live about going outside?
Well, I am in Monaco, and we have the same regulations as in France, but really there are still a lot of people going out. Monaco has a very athletic population. People do all kinds of sports here. Running, however, is the really only thing that is allowed, so everybody is running! I see people running by my house all day long. And I am actually grateful for that because it is the only thing to watch from my window now.
What races were you planning to do that were postponed?
Until we have a calendar it is impossible to answer that full, but Milano-Sanremo was a huge objective of course, and I was planning on doing all of the big classics except Liège-Bastogne-Liège.
What are you doing today?
I did my training and I am going to clean my terrace and then organize my cycling clothing. I’m just using the time at home to clear and reorganize everything because I like to have everything perfect
How are you staying in shape? What kind of workouts are you doing?
I receive a training program from the trainer every day, or every week, and just follow it. Mostly we are just focusing on intensity because it is impossible to do long distances on a trainer while inside.
What indoor gear are you using?
I use a Tacx and then connect with Zwift.
What is your motivation to train now?
The only real motivation is not to gain weight, and to keep a minimum of condition. That’s really all we can do.
Have you received any helpful advice?
No, not really. We get so much information on television — good things, bad things and just plain stupid things — so it is hard to say really.
How are you communicating with friends and family?
Yeah of course. I talk a lot with them every day.
When do you think you will race again?
Well I hope in June. I am really hoping. And I am optimistic so let’s hope for that!