Philippe Gilbert Signs With Silence-Lotto Today

Gilbert moves up a gear at Silence-Lotto

BRUSSELS, June 5, 2008 (AFP) – One-day race specialist Philippe Gilbert will be looking to boost his victory chances after signing for Belgium’s second-biggest cycling team, Silence-Lotto, here Thursday.

The 26-year-old Gilbert, who earlier this season won the Het Volk one-day classic for the second time, will leave current employers Francaise des Jeux at the end of the season, Silence-Lotto announced.

Silence-Lotto are considered Belgium’s second biggest team outside Quick Step, though they still have such prestigious riders as sprinter Robbie McEwen and Tour de France runner-up Cadel Evans, both of Australia, in their ranks.

Gilbert, 26, admitted his current team boss Marc Madiot was “emotionally stunned” after hearing of his decision to leave the team.

But he said he could not resist the temptation to try and further his career with Silence, with whom he will be one of its leaders.

“It was a difficult decision to make. Six Pro Tour teams were courting me, and I had to really look at the offers in depth,” said Gilbert.

“In the end it came down to 90 percent for Silence and 10 percent for Francaise des Jeux. It was time to make a decision.”

Gilbert, 26, will not take part in the Olympics road race in August. He will instead focus on the world road race championships in Varese, Italy, in September.

Next year he will fore go the Tour de France for either the Tour of Spain or Italy, and will also concentrate on Milan-San Remo and the ‘Ardennes Classics’, such as Fleche Wallonne, the Amstel Gold Race and Liege-Bastogne-Liege