Greg Van Avermaet (BMC) has admitted that his chances at Milan-San Remo have been deal a blow after a heel injury forced him to withdraw from Tirreno-Adriatico ahead of Tuesday’s concluding time trial.
“It started with a blister, which then started to inflame,” Van Avermaet told Het Laatse Nieuws, according to Sporza. “A few years ago, I also had an inflammation of the heel. Rest would help but I don’t want to do that.”
Van Avermaet was an aggressive performer at last year’s Milan-San Remo and led the race over the top of the Poggio en route to a 9th place finish on the Lungomare Italo Calvino. The Belgian has been one of the star-studded BMC squad’s more consistent performers in the early part of the season and could well prove to be the team’s best bet for success on Saturday, depending on the state of his nagging injury.
“I’ll wait and see how it goes, but it will hardly heal by Saturday. I’m not really optimistic for San Remo,” he said.
Van Avermaet’s teammate and rival Philippe Gilbert had already pulled out of Tirreno-Adriatico ahead of Monday’s stage to Offida, citing a fever. Gilbert has had a low-key beginning to life as a BMC rider following his much-heralded arrival in the off-season, but team manager John Lelange stressed that there was no cause for panic.
“There’s no reason to dramatise it,” Lelangue told Sporza. “Philippe is a man like you and me. He’s suffered from a virus and a fever. He was advised not to start so he pulled out.”
In March 2011, Gilbert fine-tuned his preparation for the classics by winning Strade Bianche and a tough stage of Tirreno-Adriatico to Castelraimondo, but Lelangue insisted that he had complete trust in his rider.
“This changes nothing of our faith in Philippe,” he said. “He keeps our full confidence and this off-day won’t jeopardize the entire preparation. Illness, like wind and crashes, is a fact of cycling.”
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