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Phinney out of Paris-Roubaix as Van Baarle steps up

On the back of Sep Vanmarcke being ruled out of Paris-Roubaix due to injury, Cannondale-Drapac has confirmed that Taylor Phinney will also skip the race after suffering a concussion.

The American crashed and broke his helmet in the Tour of Flanders and was taken to hospital for a check-up, where it was revealed that he suffered the injury. The team's medical protocol insists that riders must takes six days off from racing if such an injury occurs. Despite Phinney returning to training in the last few days, the rider and the team's medical staff have decided that Sunday's Paris-Roubaix comes too quickly on the back of the injury.

"Until yesterday, I was feeling pretty optimistic about being able to ride Roubaix this weekend," Phinney said in a statement issued by the team.

"I'd been feeling ok at the dinner table and hanging out. But then yesterday was my first ride outside. I started riding and got a little bit of a headache. Then it went away and I thought, 'ok, I'll be fine'. But then it came back and I started experiencing some emotional ups and down that reminded me of the last concussion I had."

Phinney has endured a difficult start to life at Cannondale-Drapac after his winter move from BMC Racing. A knee injury disrupted his early season programme and he was finally coming into form before his Tour of Flanders crash, which came shortly after he'd put in an attack. This latest setback means that the former U23 winner of Paris-Roubaix will take time to recover before turning his attention to the Tour of California in May, and then the Tour de France in July, where he is expected to make his debut at the race.

"I'm frustrated. I've been nursing myself this whole classics season to get into these races and be with the guys," Phinney added. "But this just happens. This happened my first season as a pro, but then I ended up having a pretty nice second part of the season. On the positive end, I'm more motivated. I feel more motivated than I have in a long time to put in effort for the summer. I look forward to the Tour of California and the first stage of the Tour de France. These things excite me.”

The loss of both Phinney, and more importantly Vanmarcke, open the door for van Baarle, who impressed with a fourth-place finish in Flanders. The 24-year-old finished 16th in Paris-Roubaix last year and will lead the team alongside the experienced Sebastian Langeveld.

"We have to go with the same mindset as we did the other classics. We have still a very strong team and I think we can still do something in France," Van Baarle said. "Normally I would say Flanders suits me better, but in Flanders on the steep climbs I struggled a little. Maybe this year Roubaix suits me better. Last year I felt good, but I was behind some crashes and I was always racing from the back. If that doesn't happen this year, then we can have a good result I think."

Cannondale-Drapac for Paris-Roubaix: Paddy Bevin, Wouter Wippert, Dylan van Baarle, Sebastian Langeveld, Will Clarke, Tom Scully, Tom Van Asbroeck and Ryan Mullen.

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