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With mass abandons at Tirreno-Adriatico, who will be ready for Milan-San Remo?

OFFIDA, Italy (VN) — Most of the top Milan-San Remo favorites abandoned Tirreno-Adriatico in Monday’s penultimate stage, leaving many wondering who would to be ready for Saturday’s showdown in “La Primavera.”

Last week, a stomach virus swept through the peloton at Paris-Nice, knocking back such riders as Andy Schleck (RadioShack-Nissan) and Thor Hushovd (BMC Racing).

This latest rash of abandons doesn’t seem to have any one underlying theme, except perhaps a case of nerves ahead of the season’s first major classic.

Philippe Gilbert (BMC) and defending MSR champion Matt Goss (GreenEdge) both pulled out after coming down with colds, while Sky’s stage-winning tandem of Edvald Boasson Hagen and world champion Mark Cavendish also pulled the plug during Monday’s hilly, technical circuit course.

Gilbert tried to play down media reports that suggest he’s not going to be in fighting shape to get through the demands of the 298km Milan-San Remo course, the longest of the racing season.

BMC team doctor Max Testa said Gilbert was suffering from a slight fever that knocked him out of Tirreno, but he is expected to start Milan-San Remo.

“He was able to sleep ok. This morning he had a little headache, a sore throat and a few degrees temperature. We didn’t want to take any chances,” Testa said. “It looks like it is a virus, an upper respiratory infection. It’s best not to fight it before Milan-San Remo so it will not impact his San Remo performance. He’s stopped, just resting.”

GreenEdge reported that Goss came down with a minor cold and didn’t want to risk him getting any worse ahead of Saturday’s big defense.

“Matt is going really well, and we don’t want to run any risks before the big, one-day races coming up,” said GreenEdge sport director Matt White. “In pulling him out of the race now, after two really hard days, we’ll still be able to count on him recovering fully for Milan-San Remo and the other big classics.”