Sep Vanmarcke's Classics campaign has suffered a small blow as he continues to struggle with the consequences of a crash at Strade Bianche at the beginning of March. The Belgian has complained of pains in his ribs that is resulting in shortness of breath.
According to Belgian newspaper Het Laatste Nieuws, Vanmarcke will spend a session with a physio on Wednesday in an attempt to find ways of working around the pain. Vanmarcke has just completed Tirreno-Adriatico, taking it easy on the final time trial, where he finished over two minutes down on the winner Rohan Dennis. The Cannondale-Drapac rider will have a short break, opting to skip Milan-San Remo, and will resume his racing at next Wednesday's Dwars door Vlaanderen.
"I still have pain in my ribs and it has not improved really," Vanmarcke told Het Laatste Nieuws. "I have no idea if something is broken, it doesn't feel itself. I wanted to persevere, because Tirreno is the only proper preparation for the Classics. That's what I did, but I did not have a good feeling. I could not force anything and I was unable to compete for stage wins at all. From the moment I went deep, the ribs were playing up and I was short of breath. It's time now to take it easy to fully recover."
Vanmarcke was forced to abandon Strade Bianche on the opening weekend of March after a tumultuous race that saw him change his bike three times before ending up in a pile-up. He added the GP Industria & Artigianato to his schedule the following day but was forced to abandon that after 160km, saying on Twitter that he didn't want to push his body too hard.
He had hoped to be feeling somewhat better by the end of Tirreno-Adriatico but that hasn't happened. Now, Vanmarcke is looking for ways of working around the injury so that he is able to maintain his form for the Classics. He admits that he might be off the pace when he initially returns to the cobbles but has hopes to be able to shine at the later Monuments.
"I hope he can do something for me," Vanmarcke said of his visit to the physio. "You can't cure ribs, but you can strengthen the muscles around them with exercises. Basically, I can't lose my condition. Maybe I will be a bit short next week at Dwars door Vlaanderen and E3 Harelbeke. But hopefully I will be again on top at the Tour of Flanders and Paris-Roubaix. Nothing has been lost."