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Gilbert out of Liege-Bastogne-Liege

Philippe Gilbert, winner of Liège-Bastogne-Liège in 2011, will skip the final Ardennes classic due to a broken finger.

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One of the perennial favorites for the Ardennes, a man who won the world championships on the famous Cauberg climb, won’t be racing Liège-Bastogne-Liège Sunday. BMC’s Philippe Gilbert has opted out of a race he won in 2011 after a rocky run-up to the final week of classics.

“The pain from my fractured finger and the side-effects this creates, including changing my position and being twisted on the bike, means it’s not comfortable to ride, let alone race at this intensity,” the Belgian said.

He broke his finger during an altercation with a driver, who was allegedly drunk, near Liège, Belgium, April 8. To make matters worse, the 33-year-old was dogged by accusations that he used an illegal pepper spray in the incident.

“In Amstel Gold Race and La Flèche Wallonne he hasn’t been able to sit straight on the bike which has caused some back issues and early onset fatigue on the bike,” BMC’s chief medical officer, Dr. Max Testa, said. “After discussing with Philippe and team management we all agree that it is in his best interest to focus on his recovery before the Giro d’Italia which is only two weeks away. Realistically it doesn’t make any sense to take the risk of a crash or worsening of his back pain on Sunday.”

Gilbert will return to his Monaco home to rest and train ahead of the Giro. American Joey Rosskopf will take his place in BMC’s line-up for Liège.