Simon Gerrans, winner of the 2012 race, has been ruled out of Saturday’s Milan-San Remo through illness, while his BMC teammate Loic Vliegen will miss the Volta a Catalunya as he fractured his scaphoid when he was struck by a car after Nokere Koerse on Wednesday.
BMC Racing Team announced on Friday morning that Gerrans has withdrawn from Milan-San Remo due to a respiratory infection picked up during Paris-Nice. He has been replaced in the BMC line-up by Francisco Ventoso, but the lay-off will not unduly affect his preparations for the Ardennes Classics.
“Simon Gerrans developed a respiratory infection at Paris-Nice which triggered his asthma,” said BMC team doctor Max Testa. “We hoped he would be able to recover in time for Milan-San Remo but over the past two days, his condition has worsened. Given the poor weather and the length of the race, it is in Simon's best interests to not line up on Saturday. Fortunately, Simon will be able to resume training in a few days and his illness won't affect his race program.”
BMC's Milan-San Remo team will be led by Greg Van Avermaet and Jurgen Roelandts.
Vliegen’s participation in the Ardennes Classics is in considerably more doubt after he broke his left scaphoid in a crash following the finish of Nokere Koerse. The Belgian will undergo surgery on Monday to stabilize the non-displaced fracture. He has been ruled out of the Volta a Catalunya, which gets underway on Monday.
“If all goes to plan, Loïc should be able to start on the rollers seven to ten days after the surgery and from there build up his fitness and return to the road,” Testa explained. “He will most likely need at least four weeks off before he returns to racing but we will continue to monitor his recovery post-surgery and adjust his race program accordingly.”
Vliegen has enjoyed a solid start to 2018, placing 5th overall at the Dubai Tour. He expressed disappointment at the likelihood of missing out on the Ardennes Classics, and explained that he was struck by a car while he rode to the BMC team bus after completing an anti-doping control at Nokere Koerse.
“It is really disappointing to be out of competition because my form was good and the Ardennes were a big goal for me. It was just bad luck as I was riding back to the team bus after anti-doping control after the finish of Danilith Nokere Koerse. The bus was quite far away and the traffic was bad as it always is after a race finishes. Suddenly a car pulled out to turn left and I hit the front left wheel of the car and went flying over it,” Vliegen said.
“I had pain in my shoulder and my wrist but I didn't think there were any major problems. After a few hours at the team hotel, my wrist started to hurt so I went to the hospital and we found out that the scaphoid was fractured. I hope I can come back as soon as possible and get in shape for my next goals.”
Paddy Bevin, who briefly led Tirreno-Adriatico last week, has also been ruled out of BMC’s Volta a Catalunya line-up due to an upper respiratory infection, though Testa noted that the remainder of his racing programme will not be affected. Tom Bohli and Miles Scotson will replace Vliegen and Bevin in the BMC squad in Catalonia.
A net result of the spate of illness and injury is that BMC have withdrawn from Sunday’s GP Denain, as Bohli, Scotson and Ventoso were all due to be part of their already reduced team in France.
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