By Anthony Tan in Milan, Italy
After an early exit at Tirreno-Adriatico due to an inflamed Achilles tendon, Ceramica Panaria-Navigare sprinter Graeme Brown has opted to pull out of this weekend's Milan-San Remo Pro Tour race, believing it best to rest and attempt to treat an injury that has dogged him at inopportune moments for much of his pro road career.
"I felt it happen at a race we did on March 5 in bitterly cold conditions," recalled Brown to Cyclingnews from his European home in Pistoia, Italy. Speaking about Milano-Torino the previous weekend where he finished second-last, over 12 minutes behind winner Fabio Sacchi (Fassa Bortolo), the 199 kilometre semi-classic was Brown's first race back in Europe after a hugely successful run of victories at the Tour de Langkawi, which saw the Sydneysider take half the 10 stages on offer and looked to be on track for a solid European campaign.
"As you know, the conditions in Europe haven't been ideal for training and racing, and [the inflamed Achilles] seems to happen whenever it's really cold," he said. "In particular, going from the weather in Adelaide [at the Tour Down Under] and Malaysia [Tour de Langkawi] to this. [Brett] Lancaster's living with me here in Italy, and when he looked out the window one morning, he went: 'Hey, check this out, it's snowing!' - but the novelty soon wore off when we both realised we still had to train... "
When Cyclingnews contacted Brown, the 25 year-old had just returned from an osteopathic appointment nearby, and tomorrow evening, former Australian national team rider turned physiotherapist Margaret Hemsley will pay a special visit to Brown from her home in Germany. Brown remains hopeful that Hemsley can further treat the Olympic Madison and team pursuit champion, and provide what will be the umpteenth opinion on what triggers the adverse reaction in his left Achilles.
"I've seen that many physios, and they all have good stuff to say, but there still hasn't been one who's been able to pinpoint the real cause of the problem," said Brown, who added he wasn't too disappointed about missing what was formerly the opening round of the now-discontinued World Cup. "Nah, the race is almost 300 kilometres... I don't think it would have been a good idea to place any bets on myself!" he quipped.
Assuming all goes well this week, Brown is slated to ride the Settimana Ciclistica Internazionale stage race in Italy from March 22-26, his main focus still being the Giro d'Italia in two months' time, the first of the year's three Grand Tours.