BMC Racing will populate the 2012 Milan-San Remo peloton with four riders who have finished in the top 10 of the spring classic, but missing the star power of past podium finisher Thor Hushovd.
Hushovd was fighting a stomach sickness since the opening days of Paris-Nice and is still nursing a fever that will keep him from starting in Milan. “Monday night I woke up with fever and was cold and sweating,” said Hushovd.
“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.”
In his absence, BMC will send Alessandro Ballan, Marcus Burghardt, Philippe Gilbert, George Hincapie, Taylor Phinney, Manuel Quinziato, Michael Schär and Greg Van Avermaet to Milan-San Remo this year.
Twice a podium finisher, including third place last year and in 2008, Gilbert said he is feeling better each day. “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,” he said.
“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.”
Former world road champion Ballan, who came in fourth at Strade Bianche, believes his form is good. “I can do something good there,” Ballan said. “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.”