Thor Hushovd will not participate in this weekend's Milan-San Remo after falling victim to a fever, his team announced today.
The Norwegian, twice a podium finisher in the race (2005, 2009), was looking to be the team's protected sprinter on the BMC team for La Classicissima, but was sidelined by the same bug which brought Philippe Gilbert's Tirreno-Adriatico to a premature end.
"Monday night I woke up with fever and was cold and sweating," Hushovd said. "I have felt bad for two days now so there's no chance to race on Saturday. I am really disappointed because it was obviously one of my first goals of the year."
BMC expects Gilbert and Greg Van Avermaet, who has been struggling with a foot injury, to be back to nearly full strength for the weekend's Monument. "They are still not 100 percent, but we have two days to go. We are still pretty confident that we have a good team with good experience."
Gilbert has been training and is beginning to feel better but he is hoping to ease into the 300km long race. "I have been riding easy in training and I hope to have a race that's easier at first, maybe with a headwind or something," Gilbert said. "I'll try to be smart and ride in a good position.
"Milan-San Remo can be a very strange race where anything can happen. If it's not for me in the final, maybe it will be Alessandro Ballan or Greg Van Avermaet or someone else on our team. I think we have a good team and we aren't feeling pressure because we know we can be competitive."
Ballan is one rider on the team who hasn't been ill, and has shown that his form is strong. "I can do something good there," Ballan said of the race. "I worked hard in Tirreno-Adriatico, even if I didn't make a result there and I am in optimal condition right now. I think we can be one of the teams that takes charge of the race."
BMC for Milan-San Remo: Alessandro Ballan (Ita), Marcus Burghardt (Ger), Philippe Gilbert (Bel), George Hincapie (USA), Taylor Phinney (USA), Manuel Quinziato (Ita), Michael Schär (Swi), Greg Van Avermaet (Bel).