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Phinney in line to return to action at E3 Harelbeke

By:
Barry Ryan
Published:
March 25, 2014, 20:04 GMT,
Updated:
March 25, 2014, 19:01 GMT
Edition:
First Edition Cycling News, Wednesday, March 26, 2014
Race:
E3 Harelbeke
Taylor Phinney (BMC) just failed to catch the attackers, finishing seventh

Taylor Phinney (BMC) just failed to catch the attackers, finishing seventh

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American missed Milan-San Remo due to illness

Forced out of Milan-San Remo after falling ill 48 hours before the race, Taylor Phinney will also miss Dwars door Vlaanderen on Wednesday but is in line to return to competitive action at E3 Harelbeke at the end of the week.

"There's no point in coming when you're 90 percent or 70 percent, and we just want to make sure he's fully recovered," BMC directeur sportif Max Sciandri told Cyclingnews in Waregem on the eve of Dwars door Vlaanderen. "He didn't have the ok from the doctor so he'll have one more day at home and then he'll be up here tomorrow evening for the weekend and the rest of the Classics."

Phinney's illness developed quickly - as late as Friday lunchtime, he was still slated to appear at the team's pre-Milan-San Remo press conference that afternoon - but Sciandri believes it had its genesis at the previous week's Paris-Nice.

"Steve Cummings didn't start on the last day - a little bit of flu - and I think Taylor got it after that, as they were sharing a room," Sciandri said. "It was a shame for him that he didn't do San Remo, but we just want to make sure he's 100 percent for the Classics."

Phinney had made no secret of his desire to line up in this year's Milan-San Remo, which ought to be the last on the "classic" parcours due to the planned addition of the Pompeiana to the finale in 2015, particularly given his battling seventh place finish 12 months ago. The wet and cold conditions on Sunday can only have added to his frustration at missing out on La Classicissima.

"Yeah, I texted him a little bit while he was watching it on TV," Sciandri said. "He was a bit disappointed, of course, especially because he likes those gritty, dirty days, those cold days, but unfortunately that's bike riding. You prepare a lot for the classics and then something comes up. Still, hopefully it will give him strength and morale for the races to come."

In Phinney's absence, there is somewhat experimental look to the BMC line-up for Dwars door Vlaanderen. Under normal circumstances, Daniel Oss - third at Harelbeke last year - would be the team leader, but the Italian had a delayed start to his season due to injury and is still short on condition.

"We've also got [Klaas] Lodewyck and [Danilo] Wyss coming off San Remo who are a little bit tired, but we have some very interesting young guys like [Silvan] Dillier and [Rick] Zabel, and we're going to give them a bit of a chance," Sciandri said. "We'll see how it goes - it's the beginning of the series and we'll step into it."

A feature of Wednesday's race is the absence of so many of the major favourites for the Tour of Flanders, with Tom Boonen - who missed Milan-San Remo for family reasons - the big exception. BMC's Greg Van Avermaet joins the likes of Fabian Cancellara, Peter Sagan and Geraint Thomas in keeping his powder dry for the WorldTour races at Harelbeke and Gent-Wevelgem later this week.

"It was never in Greg's plans. Sunday took a lot out of lot of riders and he needs another couple of days of recovery," Sciandri said. "Boonen is the opposite because he needs the racing. It would have been great for Taylor too, but unfortunately that's how it is."

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