Golden Bicycle award goes to Belgium

Belgian Philippe Gilbert rides during the Paris-Tours cycling race, on October 9, 2011 between Paris and Tours (AFP Photo / Alain Jocard)
Belgian Philippe Gilbert has snatched the most prestigious award in cycling, the Velo d'Or or Golden Bicycle, given to the best rider of the year.

Twenty-nine-year-old Gilbert edged ahead of Tour de France winner Cadel Evans and world champion Mark Cavendish in an annual poll of international journalists organized by the French Velo Magazine. The Belgian claimed a total of 18 races and dominated the Ardennes Classics in 2011.

"For me, it was a goal. I had two goals this season:to win a maximum of one-day races, the big classics, and to win this ranking because last year I was third in the overall and I wanted to manage to be first after this season and so I reached my goals. It was not easy. It was a long fight – almost 10 months to have it," he said.

The cyclist does not intend to rest on his laurels, though.

“I have some good goals for the next few years with the BMC. First of all, I want to go to the Tour de France alongside Cadel Evans, to learn and mainly to help him, and then I would like to complete my record of one-day races. I am missing some of the Classics such as Milan-San Remo and the Tour of Flanders and, at least, I would like to get those," he stressed.

Thomas Voeckler was named the best French racer and the prize for best young rider went to Peter Sagan.

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