Or something like that. Actually, today's honorific comes from the National Trophy of Sport, something akin to best Belgian sportsman of the year. It's a very prestigious award, and isn't given to very many cyclists. Believe it or not, Eddy Merckx only shared the award once (not sure but it looks like they don't have any repeat winners).The Emperor of Herentals is a former winner, as is Tom Boonen for his fabulous 2005 season, Johan Museeuw in 1996 and Axel Merckx in 2004, presumably more of a lifetime achievement recognition. In a country where it's the national sport, cyclists have won ten times since 1928. A few other notable winners: nobody last year; Ingrid Berghmans in 1982 (for her judo, of course), and the Rode Duivels in 1980 for finishing second at the Euro.
In any event, Gilbert is not merely clearing space for another trophy; he is being elevated by the Belgian media to heroic status formerly (recently) reserved for Boonen and Museeuw. Not too shabby.