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New race leader Maxime Monfort (RadioShack Leopard)
Pauwels, Monfort to ride instead
Belgian National Coach, Carlo Bomans, has confirmed that Gianni Meersman and Dries Devenyns (Omega Pharma-Quick-Step) will not start the World Championship Road Race on Sunday with Serge Pauwels (Omega Pharma-Quick-Step) and Maxim Monfort (RadioShack Leopard) to ride as substitutes.
Pauwels was announced as the replacement for Devenyns on Sunday which prompted discussion over the non-selection of Monfort with Monfort himself taking to twitter to voice his displeasure:
"Not even consulted to be a possible replacement for @3sdevenyns [Dries Devenyns], Check. #doubledeception #incomprehension."
Soon after, Meersman contacted Bomans to inform him that he that he was not feeling well.
"During the GP Impanis on Saturday Gianni Meersman was already not feeling well," Bomans told Sporza. "Sunday he suffered from gastroenteritis. And that's only gotten worse."
"I immediately contacted Maxime Monfort," explained Bomans. "I asked him if he was still motivated. Maxime let me know that he really wanted to race. He was initially disappointed [at not being selected], it's the World Championships, I can understand. [But] I can only select seven riders."
With news of his selection to replace Meersman, Monfort was understandably happy.
"I no longer expected to make the World Championships squad," Monfort told Sporza. "I was very disappointed when I was not there [initially], but now I'm riding the World Championships. That's the main thing.
"I'm definitely excited. The past few days I have trained hard. I have a good feeling on the bike and will be able to play a good role at the World Championships. My personal ambitions, I don't have any. I'll ride 100 percent for the team in Firenze and our leader Philippe Gilbert."
And despite the bitter tone from his earlier tweeting, Monfort was quick to quell any rumours about a rift between himself and the national coach.
"With Carlo Bomans I certainly have no problems," said Monfort. "During the past year we have talked a lot, more than before."
Barring any additional last-minute alterations, the Belgian squad to take to the start line on Sunday will be comprised of: Philippe Gilbert, Greg Van Avermaet (BMC), Bjorn Leukemans (Vacansoleil-DCM), Jan Bakelants, Maxime Monfort (RadioShack Leopard), Serge Pauwels (Omega Pharma-Quick-Step) and Johan Vansummeren (Garmin).