We saw him win the last hilly Classic of 2009, the Giro de Lombardia. Yesterday we saw him do the same in the first hilly Classic of 2010, Amstel Gold. Both he won in dominating fashion. Can he win Wednesday's La Fleche Wallonne, and Sunday's Liege-Bastogne-Liege, and thus become only the second cyclist in history to sweep the Ardennes races? Can he win one of them and thus become only the seventh cyclist in history to win two of them?
A little background. It is true that only Davide Rebellin has accomplished the treble, in 2004. However that stat is kinda misleading on a couple of counts. First, Amstel Gold only started in 1966 so two riders who won both La Fleche and LBL prior to that-Ferdi Kubler in both 1951 and 1952 plus Stan Ockers in 1955-never had a chance. Second, 2003 was the first year AGR finished atop the Cauberg and thus the type of rider to win has changed more towards the climby types. (Oscar Freire: you aware of this?)
Here's the full list of riders who won two of the three in one year since AGR was founded:
72- Merckx won La Fleche and LBL
73-Merckx won AGR and LBL
75-Merckx won AGR and LBL
91- Argentin won La Fleche and LBL
04-Rebellin won all three
05 Di Luca won AGR and La Fleche
06 Valverde won La Fleche and LBL
A word about the last three names here. Was it because they were dopers that allowed them to win? If so, does the fact that no one has won two since Valverde in 06 imply that there's less doping going on? Or did those three riders take advantage of the Cauberg addition in 03 making AGR into a similar race to La Fleche that made it possible for riders to include AGR besides the other two? If so then possibly the peloton as a whole took a couple years to adjust with specific riders targeting AGR now, making it harder again to win two or three of the races. Or maybe the reason is a combo of both reasons. What does that say about Gilbert's chances?