BMC riders withdraw from Sunday's Classic
Taylor Phinney and Phillipe Gilbert have been withdrawn from BMC's Tour of Flanders roster. Road world champion Gilbert is still suffering from a cold he picked up at Paris-Nice, while Phinney is dealing with a knee injury he sustained at Gent-Wevelgem.
BMC announced that Greg Van Avermaet and Thor Hushovd will lead the team in the Ronde on Sunday.
"We still have a good team with guys like Thor Hushovd and Greg Van Avermaet, who are our main leaders," Directeur Sportif John Lelangue said.
"But we have also seen in E3-Harelbeke that Daniel Oss is very strong. And we have a good back-up team with Marcus Burghardt, Manuel Quinziato and Michael Schär and two teammates in Blythe and Lodewyck who were already prepared to race. So we are still confident that we will be there in the final."
Gilbert has made no secret of his ambition to win Flanders but with the Ardennes around the corner, he has decided to rest up, despite showing signs of form in last weekend's Gent-Wevelgem.
Phinney, on the other hand, has targeted Paris-Roubaix as his major objective for the spring. The two-time winner of the U23 version of the race missed out on selection for the WorldTour level event last year but has steadily improved over the last 12 months and picked up BMC’s best result earlier this month in Milan-San Remo.
"With my current condition, I know I cannot be successful at Flanders," said Gilbert.
"I want to give everything for the Ardennes Classics, so I have decided to change my program and go to Vuelta al Pais Vasco to prepare. I need a stage race where I can go hard on the climbs. It's always better for me to race than train because you can go much deeper in a race."
Phinney said he wants to be 100 per cent for next weekend's Paris-Roubaix, his goal race for the spring.
"I'm confident if I stay at home in Italy and have a couple more days of recovery, I can be back 100 percent for Paris-Roubaix," he said. "I could probably push through the injury but I wouldn't be at my best. I would have to ride conservatively and that's not the right position I want to be in for the team."
BMC Racing Team roster for Tour of Flanders (March 31)
Adam Blythe (GBr), Marcus Burghardt (Ger), Thor Hushovd (Nor), Klaas Lodewyck (Bel), Daniel Oss (Ita), Manuel Quinziato (Ita), Michael Schär (Swi), Greg Van Avermaet (Bel).