Tiesj Benoot (Lotto Soudal) has enjoyed a breakthrough spring Classics campaign but the Belgian has opted to stick to his original programme. He will therefore miss Paris-Roubaix and train at altitude so that he can be at his best for the Ardennes Classics.
Benoot won Strade Bianche, was fifth at E3 Harelbeke, seventh at Dwars door Vlaanderen and eighth at the Tour of Flanders, making him one of the revelations of the spring. However, much like Michal Kwiatkowski, Benoot's lighter physique and climbing ability also makes him an Ardennes contender, hence his decision to head to Spain's Sierra Nevada instead of northern France.
"I need to charge the batteries a bit and train quietly," Het Nieuwsblad report Benoot as saying. "I want to be good until Liège-Bastogne-Liège. That is why I keep my original programme and do not suddenly drive Paris-Roubaix."
Benoot's absence leaves Lotto Soudal looking for a team leader for Paris-Roubaix. Andre Greipel fractured his collarbone at Milan-San Remo and new signing Jens Keukeleire is out of action due to a respiratory infection. Lotto Soudal are hoping that Jens Debusschere and Jasper de Buyst can step up.
"We will do it like Quick Step: whoever is the best, has to drive in front," team manager Marc Sergeant said trying to stay optimistic after being again overshadowed by rival Belgian team Quick-Step Floors.
"I do not know if that will work with us. Fortunately Tiesj Benoot has taken a big step forward this year. He has been making the races and impressed in the Flemish races. Fortunately he won the Strade Bianche."