Fifth-place at last year's Milan-Sanremo was proof John Degenkolb (Argos-Shimano) was capable of handling the season's longest one-day race. However, the strain of riding in the cold and rain at Tirreno-Adriatico has led to a reported muscle strain which could affect his chances come Sunday.
"Degenkolb is still suffering pain in his thigh muscles after Tirreno-Adriatico," said team manager Marc Reef to nieuwsblad.be. "That was mainly due to the cold and the long stages. John has been given some good massage and has also trained on the bike. It's not ideal but he remains our leader. He is otherwise in good shape."
The best result the rider has achieved so far this year, was sixth-place on Stage 5 in the windswept desert at Tour of Qatar. Degenkolb never appeared in contention at the Tour of Oman but returned to Europe and trained hard in the lead-up to Tirreno. The conditions experienced in the 'Race of the Two Seas' have obviously hampered his chances and suggests he may lack race fitness toward the end of the 298km race.
Degenkolb pulled out of Tirreno on Stage 4 from Narni to Prati di Tivo but the team remains committed to supporting the 24-year-old who won five stages at last year's Vuelta a España.
If Degenkolb makes it over the Poggio with the front group it is likely he will be isolated, but the powerful German should be able to take care of himself if his condition improves in the coming days.
"The course is for him. He will have the full support of the rest of the team and will be able to count on them," added Reef.
Argos-Shimano for Milan-San Remo: Roy Curvers (Ned), John Degenkolb (Ger), Tom Dumoulin (Ger), Johannes Frohlinger (Ger), Simon Geschke (Ger), Cheng Ji (Chn), Koen de Kort (Ned) and Matthieu Sprick (Fra).