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Race leader Taylor Phinney (BMC)
American suffering from fever, replaced by Lodewyck
Phinney, who lined up at Paris-Nice last week, had carried out a reconnaissance of the finale of Milan-San Remo with some of his teammates on Thursday before travelling to Parma to join up with the BMC riders who had participated in Tirreno-Adriatico.
Phinney was unable to train fully with the team on Friday morning, however, and was absent from the team's pre-race press conference in Vimercate in the afternoon. In a short statement early on Friday evening, team doctor Max Testa all but confirmed Phinney's absence and said that his focus is on recovering in time for E3 Harelbeke and Gent-Wevelgem next weekend.
"He was feeling ok [yesterday] and then this morning with the last work-out with the team he got some flu-like symptoms. He had some back pain, chills and he had the fever. So we separated him from the other riders and checked him tonight," Testa said. "He still has a low-grade fever and so we decided to pull him out of Milan-San Remo, most likely with bad weather, so I think we're going to focus on having him recover for next weekend."
During the earlier press conference, BMC team president Jim Ochowicz had already briefed reporters that Phinney's participation in Milan-San Remo was in doubt. "He was going to train with us this morning but didn't feel so well and since then he developed a fever so we're not sure he'll be taking the start on Sunday yet," Ochowicz said. "This is all kind of active at the moment in the last few minutes. Apparently he's come down with a fever now and that might change our roster Sunday's race."
Phinney's place on the BMC roster will be filled by Klaas Lodewyck, while the team will be led by Philippe Gilbert, Greg Van Avermaet and Thor Hushovd.
7th at Milan-San Remo last year, Phinney had spoken enthusiastically of the prospect of riding La Primavera on its classic, pre-2008 parcours, without the climbs of Le Manie and Pompeiana.
"I wondered what it would be like to do the old, classic Milan-San Remo route so I'm quite excited to be able to do that," Phinney told reporters last month. "I think it's kind of special for the riders, at least for me, that we're able to do that old version and really feel the history of that race and what it used to be."