Flecha and Henderson to start, give British team options
Team Sky has made a late change to its line-up for Saturday's Milan-San Remo, as the British team prepares to make their first appearance in one of cycling's five monumental Classics.
Sky's combination for Milan-San Remo bears close resemblance to the squad that helped Edvald Boasson Hagen win the final stage of Tirreno-Adriatico on Tuesday. The talented Norwegian will be the team's leader, but the presence of an on-form Juan Antonio Flecha and Paris-Nice stage winner Greg Henderson gives Team Sky a variety of options for the difficult-to-predict San Remo finale.
Also in the nine-rider line-up are hard working domestiques Michael Barry, Mat Hayman and Ian Stannard, plus Thomas Löfkvist and Chris Sutton.
Welshman Geraint Thomas was pencilled in to replace Kurt-Asle Arvesen in the team as the Norwegian continues to recover after breaking his collarbone in Qatar. However senior Directeur Sportif Scott Sunderland has confirmed that Henderson will now take his place. Thomas is still on the official race entry list but now has more time to train for the cobbled Classics and will ride Gent-Wevelgem on March 28.
"Greg's going to drop in for Kurt and he should be good to go after participating in Paris-Nice," said Sunderland on the team's official website.
"Geraint's been working hard but he's not quite where he needs to be at the moment, so he's going to do a little bit of extra work this week to make sure he's properly ready for the Classics taking place after Milan-San Remo.
"We're going to that [Milan-San Remo] with a really strong team though, and it should certainly be interesting on Saturday."
Morale in the British team is high after Tirreno-Adriatico. The riders will stay in Italy and focus on recovering for Saturday's race. Other teams have traveled to San Remo to study the finale of the route but Team Sky, like HTC-Columbia, wisely did that before Tirreno-Adriatico.
Michael Barry helped Mark Cavendish win Milan-San Remo in 2009. This year he is quietly confident that Boasson Hagen can pull off a similar feat.
"It's a race we can win and we are going there with a plan to do just that. Edvald is in great form and we will ride for him," he said.