Andre Greipel (Lotto Soudal) continued his fine start to the season with a stage win at Paris-Nice on Thursday, but the German hinted that his dream of winning Milan-San Remo could be over, and he may skip the race later this month.
The 34-year-old took part in the Italian Monument each year from 2011 until 2015 before missing last year's edition. His best result came in 2014 when he finished in 24th place. At his stage winner's press conference Thursday in Bourg-de-Peage, he admitted that his build and weight were factors in the decision, although he left the door open just enough to keep alive any slim hope of racing La Classicissima.
"I don't know if I do San Remo. I'll have to find out with how I go uphill in the next few days," he said.
"My goal isn't San Remo. My goal is a bit later. To be in good shape, I've tried it a lot of times for Milan-San Remo. There's always a natural selection on the Cipressa and Poggio and I'm just a bit too heavy. Plus we always have a good team for San Remo. I'll find out in the next days."
Greipel will run a modified spring campaign this season with the Volta a Catalunya brought in to replace Gent-Wevelgem – a race he hasn't finished since 2013. The Three Days of De Panne is also off the programme with his goals coming later in the spring.
"I've done a lot of times San Remo, Gent-Wevelgem and De Panne," he said.
"They're really nice races, and I know that I can perform good there but I want to do Cataluyna and prepare well for the Classics."
Greipel can certainly be content with his return from Paris-Nice. Only two stages genuinely suited the sprinters, with Sam Bennett and the Lotto Soudal fast man dividing them up among themselves. The last three days of Paris-Nice will see Greipel morph into a domestique for Tony Gallopin, who sits second on GC.
Thursday's win makes up for the heartache of missing out on stage 3 when a late mistake cost the German any chance of winning. He finished seventh, several lengths back on stage winner Bennett, but that inspired him for Thursday's stage.
"I was really disappointed on Tuesday. I made a big mistake and that's why I was really angry at myself. We wanted to do it better today. The last seven kilometres were a block headwind and it wasn't easy to stay in front. We had to time it right. Together with the team, I had a really good position for the sprint and I will say that the finish suited me well with it being slightly uphill."