Despite failing to finish Scheldeprijs, Julian Vermote (Dimension Data) has had a solid Classics campaign, but he is a doubt for the final cobbled test of Paris-Roubaix. The Belgian remains hopeful that he will be able to line-up on Sunday despite dislocating his shoulder twice during the Tour of Flanders.
Vermote, who came within metres of winning Omloop Het Nieuwsblad at the start of the spring Classics, was able to finish Flanders and used Wednesday's Scheldeprijs as to see how the shoulder holds up under racing conditions.
"I think that Eddy [Evald Boasson Hagen] is in really good shape and I am also in good shape, which is why I want to test today. We will see how it goes on Sunday," Vermote told Cyclingnews at the start of Scheldeprijs.
As he walked around by the sign-on podium at the start in Terneuzen, Netherlands, Vermote's arm remained firmly down by his side, any strapping hidden by his long-sleeve jersey. He said that his shoulder was causing him some pain but played the injury down.
"It's quite OK. I just have two tears on the labrum. The other one it is the ligaments. It's not perfect but it's OK. I have to do it like this," he said modestly. "Pain, definitely. I can't move it in every direction but when I'm on the bike it's quite OK."
Vermote's crash happened when a vehicle belonging to another team hit his wheel, causing him to come down at speed. It was the same driver that had been involved in Bernhard Eisel's crash at Tirreno-Adriatico, although the Austrian absolved the driver of any blame at the time, saying that it was his fault it had happened.
"It just hit me from behind and I went down. I don't think that he saw me. He was just speaking to a rider beside him and he hit me full and took me," explained Vermote.
If Vermote is unable to ride this Sunday, it will be another major blow for the Dimension Data team, who has had to call riders up from their Tour de Langkawi squad to fill the holes. Eisel broke his wrist in the Tirreno-Adriatico crash last month, while Scott Thwaites is out after breaking several vertebrae when he was hit by a truck during training. Mark Cavendish is also currently sidelined following a big crash at Milan-San Remo, although he intends to return at the Tour of California in May. Vermote says that the team is still trying to keep the morale up.
"It hasn't been easy, we've had a lot of injuries but we have to stay positive and keep the mind focused," Vermote told Cyclingnews.