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No Milan-San Remo for Mark Cavendish

Dimension Data have revealed their line-up for Milan-San Remo, confirming that 2009 winner Mark Cavendish will be absent. The South African squad will instead be led by sprinter Giacomo Nizzolo. 

Cavendish has raced every edition of La Classicissima since winning on his debut 10 years ago, but has endured a complicated couple of years due to Epstein Barr Virus. 

The 33-year-old took an extended break in the second half of last year after the virus came back for a second time, and has been easing his way back into racing in 2019. After finishing the Vuelta a San Juan and UAE Tour, where he primarily worked for teammates, he suffered a setback at Paris-Nice last week as he struggled in the crosswinds and abandoned on stage 2. 

Cavendish is clearly some way short of full strength, as he was absent from the seven-man team for Milan-San Remo announced by Dimension Data on Thursday. 

"The race was just his third back," DS Rolf Aldag said after Paris-Nice, "following already tough outings at the Vuelta a San Juan and the UAE Tour, as he continues to work his way back towards full fitness following a long lay-off from racing due to illness last year."

Dimension Data will instead be led by Nizzolo, who himself has had a complicated couple of seasons through injury. Knee surgery in the winter, however, seems to have put an end to that, and he already signalled a return to form with victory on the final stage of the Tour of Oman. Crashes scuppered the Italian at the recent Tirreno-Adriatico, where he finished fourth on stage 3 behind Elia Viviani, Peter Sagan, and Fernando Gaviria. 

Nizzolo will be hoping to survive the climbs in the late portion of the 291-kilometre race, including the Cipressa and Poggio, and to take part in a bunch sprint on the Via Roma. 

"Milan-San Remo is always a special race because at the start there are at least 50 riders who can play the game for the victory," said Nizzolo. 

"It’s not a really hard race, if you take into account its profile, but after 290km every small hill can feel like a big, big climb. So we will try to spend the least energy as possible and be ready for those crucial final stages."

Dimension Data have back-up in the form of Reinardt Janse van Rensburg, while the team is rounded out by Enrico Gasparotto, Tom-Jelte Slagter, Roman Kreuziger, Steve Cummings, and Bernhard Eisel. 

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