Team DiData’s Gibbons finished the race in 53rd place out of a field of 173 international riders. Overcoming some testing conditions, he felt it was an achievement in itself to have completed the race.
“It was good to get a classic like that under the belt,” Gibbons told In the Bunch today. “It was nice to cross off, finish and just to have been involved in the racing.
“Our team [DiData] are in a bad place at the moment in terms of injuries. Some of our strong classic riders – such as Scott Thwaites and Bernie Eisel – are out.
“We are currently starting all of the races with one rider down and we are simply under-manpowered, so personally it’s frustrating.
“It comes down to experience, which we currently lack – including me.”
Experience would have played a big part in such a race, Gibbons added.
“About 40 per cent of the field is Belgian and those guys are incredible, they know every corner and cobblestone.
“They know which directions and lines to ride and when, and they know the routes and conditions very well.”
Bad luck had also played a part yesterday, Gibbons said.
“There are many things you can control and then there are things you cannot. I have been able to control my fitness and form to a certain extent, but I was quite unlucky yesterday.
“I had some punctures and crashes which always put me on the back foot. I always had to chase back.
“I had a puncture at about the 180km mark and I had to chase back when the bunch split.
“I got back again, but then I crashed when I tried to move up on the right-hand side and I had to have a bike change. I had to chase back again at a crucial moment.
“The crash prevented me from attempting to put myself in a better position. Cars also held me up a bit, because the roads were narrow.
“All that said, I am chuffed to have finished in the second or third group, but I was still very frustrated.”
Heading into the race, Gibbons said their team dynamic was to play a supporting role for Edvald Boasson Hagen and Julien Vermote.
“They were our key riders,” he said. “Edvald is a very strong rider; he is very prominent in these classics and he has actually won the Gent before.
“Julien is a strong Belgian rider – he lives just a few kilometres from here [Wevelgem]. The strategy for the rest of us was to help where we could.
“We all initially pushed for the breakaway; in these races it is a big fight to get into the break. If that doesn’t happen then it is important to make sure our two key rider are okay and that they remain in the race.”
Gibbons said it was a “real South African mentality” to think that if a rider did not finish a race then he was “not good”, especially in races of this magnitude.
“That is not the case and that is something that I have painfully learnt. On paper, a DNF tells nothing.
“You could have the best ride and be one of the strongest riders and still not finish the race, purely because you had to make decisive sacrifices in the best interests of your team.
“It is a different mentality to general South African riders. There is a bigger picture [in international races] and there is more at play.”