Fever rules Hushovd out of Milan-Sanremo
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Thursday, March 15, 2012

Fever rules Hushovd out of Milan-Sanremo

by VeloNation Press at 1:43 PM EST   comments
Categories: Pro Cycling, Spring Classics, Milan-Sanremo, Injury
Gilbert, Phinney and Ballan part of squad for Sunday’s Classic

Thor HushovdThe 2010 world road race champion Thor Hushovd has been forced to call a halt to his aim of winning this year’s Milan-Sanremo, with illness ruling him out of the BMC Racing Team lineup.

Hushovd finished third in 2005 and 2009 and had earmarked the race as one of his targets heading towards the end of his career. Winning it and Paris-Roubaix are major objectives and while he’s still in contention to shine in this year’s cobbled Classic, he’s going to have to wait until 2013 before his next crack at La Primavera.

"Monday night I woke up with fever and was cold and sweating," he said. "I have felt bad for two days now so there's no chance to race on Saturday. I am really disappointed because it was obviously one of my first goals of the year."

He had previously had a stomach ailment during the early part of Paris-Nice.

Hushovd’s fever follows a similar issue which caused Philippe Gilbert to withdraw from Tirreno-Adriatico. According to directeur sportif John Lelangue, the Belgian and his compatriot Greg Van Avermaet – who also pulled out due to heel problems – are improving.

“The decision to take them both out of Tirreno-Adriatico was a good one," he stated. "They are still not 100 percent, but we have two days to go. We are still pretty confident that we have a good team with good experience."

Like Hushovd, Gilbert has twice finished third in the race and has plotted it out as one he wants to win. He has the goal of taking all the major Classics and, after winning the Amstel Gold Race, Liege-Bastogne-Liege and Il Lombardia, Milan-Sanremo and Paris-Roubaix are on his hitlist.

He doesn’t appear to be in the same form as this time last year, and speaks with what may be a slight lack of confidence about his own abilities on Saturday. Still, depending on how the race plays out, he says that he or another on the team can be a factor

"I have been riding easy in training and I hope to have a race that's easier at first, maybe with a headwind or something," Gilbert stated. "I'll try to be smart and ride in a good position. Milan-San Remo can be a very strange race where anything can happen.

“If it's not for me in the final, maybe it will be Alessandro Ballan or Greg Van Avermaet or someone else on our team. I think we have a good team and we aren't feeling pressure because we know we can be competitive."

Those three riders will be joined by young US talent Taylor Phinney and the experienced veteran George Hincapie, as well as the German Marcus Burghardt, Italian Manuel Quinziato and the Swiss rider Michael Schär.

Former world champion Alessandro Ballan placed fourth in the race one year ago and was recently fourth in the Strade Bianche race. He’s sounding confident, and will have the full support of the team if he turns out to be the strongest or best-positioned.

"I can do something good there," he predicted. "I worked hard in Tirreno-Adriatico, even if I didn't make a result there and I am in optimal condition right now. I think we can be one of the teams that takes charge of the race."

BMC Racing Team for Milan-San Remo:

Alessandro Ballan (ITA), Marcus Burghardt (GER), Philippe Gilbert (BEL), George Hincapie (USA), Taylor Phinney (USA), Manuel Quinziato (ITA), Michael Schär (SUI), Greg Van Avermaet (BEL).



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