Team rosters for the Amstel Gold Race are starting to come together in the final five days before the race, but the Katusha roster is still uncertain as Classics specialist Kim Kirchen is suffering from an infected saddle sore and cannot train.
The Luxemburger had to skip the Brabantse Pijl today and will make a decision Friday whether or not to start the Dutch Classic.
Kirchen, should he start, would join Joaquim Rodriguez, Alexandr Kolobnev, Sergei Ivanov and Filippo Pozzato on the Katusha roster.
The Vacansoleil team will take the start without Lieuwe Westra, who underwent surgery on his shoulder in Belgium yesterday. Westra crashed early in the Ronde van Drenthe and is expected to be out of commission for four weeks.
He will be replaced by Wout Poels on the squad for Amstel, which will also include Matteo Carrara, Michel Golas, Johnny Hoogerland, Sergey Lagutin, Björn Leukemans, Marco Marcato and Rob Ruygh.
HTC-Columbia will head to the Netherlands with a versatile squad but no one leader, a similar tactic to what the squad used in last year's race
"It would be wrong to say HTC-Columbia have got a big single favourite for Amstel, but in a race as tricky and unpredictable as this one, sometimes it's not clever to base all your options on one rider," explained director Tristan Hoffman.
"We tried to get in a breakaway that would anticipate the final attacks and make the biggest names react and play the game our way, and it almost worked. I'll expect our riders to be equally flexible in their approach on Sunday."
Although there are 31 climbs in total in Amstel Gold, Hoffman says "The real action starts on the Eyserbosweg climb when we go over it the second time, less than 30 kilometres from the finish. After that, you can't afford to make any mistakes."
HTC-Columbia for Amstel Gold Race: Michael Albasini (Swi); Craig Lewis (USA); Tony Martin (Ger); Maxime Monfort (Bel); Marco Pinotti (Ita); Vicente Reynes (Spa); Martin Velits (Svk); Peter Velits (Svk).
AG2R La Mondiale for Amstel Gold Race: Martin Elmiger, Alexandr Efimkin, René Mandri, Ben Gastauer, Nicolas Roche, Dimitri Champion, Maxime Bouet, Blel Kadri
Omega Pharma-Lotto for Amstel Gold Race: Mario Aerts, Christophe Brandt, Philippe Gilbert, Gerben Löwik, Dani Moreno, Jean-Christope Peraud, Staf Scheirlinckx and Jurgen Van den Broeck.
Vacansoleil for Amstel Gold Race: Wout Poels, Matteo Carrara, Michel Golas, Johnny Hoogerland, Sergey Lagutin, Björn Leukemans, Marco Marcato and Rob Ruygh.