By Bjorn Haake
French ProTour team Cofidis won the Dwars door Vlaanderen in 2008 through Sylvain Chavanel. One year later things look less promising. The strong Cofidis Classics faction around Chavanel has left and young Alexandre Blain, who is designated to eventually take over this role, is suffering from health problems.
Cyclingnews tried to reach Blain in the team's hotel in Gent ahead of the mid-week race, but was only able to speak with directeur sportif Alain Deloeuil. "Alexandre is not here, he is sick. He is undergoing some more tests to see what is really wrong with him."
Deloeuil added that Blain had to abandon Milano-Sanremo last week. "He has intestinal problems and couldn't eat, but we don't know the exact cause yet." The rider stayed in his home near Nice rather than traveling to Belgium.
Without a clear leader, it leaves the rest of the team in limbo. "We can just try to to do a good race," Deloeuil said. It may be another opportunity to shine for neo-pro Guillaume Blot, who was in a long break in the Omloop Het Nieuwsblad.
This year was supposed to be Blain's first full Spring Classics campaign, but it already started out badly. In the very first race, the Omloop Het Nieuwsblad, Blain crashed on the cobbled Paddestraat. He was unable to finish the race and could also not ride the next day in Kuurne-Brussel-Kuurne.