Sprint superstar Mark Cavendish (Omega Pharma-Quick Step) said the altered Milano-Sanremo course is too hard and he will skip the 2014 edition.
Cavendish, who won the Italian monument in 2009, said the addition of a new climb late in the race makes the Italian classic not to his liking.
“I can say for certain I will not race Milan-San Remo this year, and maybe never again,” Cavendish told La Gazzetta dello Sport. “If the course is never like it was before, maybe I will never race it again, and my 2009 win will be my only one.”
Race organizers are tweaking the finale of the “classicissima,” removing the Maniè climb with about 100 kilometers to go, adding the Pompeiaga climb in the closing kilometers.
In a bid to make the season’s longest classic even more challenging, organizers have added another steep climb in the closing hour of racing for the 105th edition, set for March 23.
The new climb will come after the Cipressa and before the Poggio, the often-decisive final climb along the Italian Riviera. Pompeiaga is about 5km long, and will provide a chance for more attacks from riders looking to disrupt a sprint finish.
Cavendish is the first major name to confirm he will skip racing on the altered course, which has drawn a mixed reaction among the peloton.
Cavendish, speaking to the Italian sports daily during a visit to the McLaren facilities, said he would be focusing on his sprints during the 2014 season.
With the Tour de France starting in the United Kingdom in what will likely be a sprint finish, Cavendish will have a chance to claim the yellow jersey for the first time in his career.
Cavendish, who also confirmed he will be racing the Giro d’Italia, said he sees “six or seven” stages ideal for sprints during the 2014 Tour.