Boonen takes support role for Milan-San Remo

Etixx-Quickstep backing Stybar, Gaviria in La Primavera

Cyclingnews will have live coverage of Milan-San Remo from 8am GMT on Saturday, March 19.

Tom Boonen will make his return to Milan-San Remo on Saturday after sitting out the race for the past two seasons. Although he has finished twice on the podium in La Primavera, don't expect the Belgian to be the team's protected rider: Etixx-Quickstep is backing the in-form riders Zdenek Stybar and Fernando Gaviria, who are fresh off wins in Tirreno-Adriatico, while Boonen is using the race as preparation for the cobbled Classics.

"We have a strong team with the leaders Stybar and Gaviria," Boonen said to Sporza this week. "They are our irons in the fire for Milan-Sanremo. I will not be the leader.

"I want to be useful for the team, that's the only reason why I am racing. It is the easiest Classic to ride, but the most difficult to win, but I like to ride it."

In addition to Boonen, Gaviria and Stybar will count on Italians Gianluca Brambilla, Fabio Sabatini and Matteo Trentin and Belgians Julian Vermote and Stijn Vandenbergh.

Etixx-Quickstep directeur sportif Davide Bramati says the race is always a lottery, and the finish is difficult to predict. "There are many contenders for the victory, riders who’ve shown in France and Italy that they are in very good form. I’m thinking here of Michael Matthews, Alexander Kristoff, Fabian Cancellara, Greg Van Avermaet, Peter Sagan or Edvald Boasson Hagen," he said.

“We have a great group of riders, who came out of Paris-Nice and Tirreno-Adriatico in good condition and ready to face this 300-km long event. We are not the favourites for the win, but we’ll see what we can do depending on how things will go, and you can be sure of the fact that we will play a role during the race. Our main goal is to be there and get the maximum out of it.”

Etixx-Quickstep for Milan-San Remo: Tom Boonen, Gianluca Brambilla, Fernando Gaviria Rendon, Fabio Sabatini, Zdenek Stybar, Matteo Trentin, Stijn Vandenbergh, Julien Vermote

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