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Simon Gerrans at Paris-Nice. Photo: ©Tim De Waele...

News Roundup: Gerrans out of Sanremo; van Aert recons De Ronde; Hodeg wins Handzame; Quintana decries use of image in politics

News Roundup: Gerrans out of Sanremo; Quintana decries use of his image in politics; van Aert recons De Ronde; prospect Hodeg wins Handzame Classic

Here’s your News Roundup for Friday, March 16. This is our way of keeping you up to speed on all of the stories circulating in the world of pro cycling. Stay tuned for more as the season heats up!

Former winner Gerrans out of Sanremo

BMC Racing will be without Simon Gerrans at Saturday’s Milano-Sanremo. The 37-year-old Australian, who rode to his first monument victory at the 2012 edition of the race, was scratched from the lineup Friday due to illness.

“Simon Gerrans developed a respiratory infection at Paris-Nice which triggered his asthma. We hoped he would be able to recover in time for Milan-San Remo but over the past two days, his condition has worsened,” said team doctor Max Testa via a press release. “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.”

Francisco Ventoso will replace Gerrans for BMC on Saturday in Italy, where Greg Van Avermaet is expected to be the team leader.

Van Aert recons Tour of Flanders

Cyclocross world champion Wout van Aert (Vérandas Willems-Crelan) rode a course recon of the Tour of Flanders on Thursday, reported Sporza. The 23-year-old Belgian will look to continue his fine 2018 road campaign with a strong debut in his home monument next month.

Van Aert, who delivered an impressive third-place finish at Strade Bianche, noted that the Flanders course was especially challenging.

“The course of the Tour of Flanders is a lot more difficult”, Van Aert said, according to Sporza. “The succession of climbs is huge, and almost all of them are cobbled slopes.”

Considering the challenge ahead, van Aert downplayed his chances of success in his first run at the Tour of Flanders.

“I would ‘sign up for’ a top 10 in De Ronde. I would not expect such a good result in my first Tour of Flanders, but I have performed well in recent weeks and I feel good, so maybe it should be my ambition, to finish in the top 10,” he said.

Indeed, van Aert says he’s already pleased with what he has accomplished on the road this season.

“I have been able to hold onto the good shape of the World Championships so far. the question is how long I can hold on to this level,” he said. “If it suddenly went less well, that would not be bad, because I already showed beautiful things. For me, spring has certainly succeeded.”

Colombian prospect Hodeg nabs first pro win at Handzame Classic

Álvaro José Hodeg, a stage winner and revelation at last year’s Tour de l’Avenir, signed with Quick-Step Floors for 2018 last fall. It’s only March, and the 21-year-old already has his first pro victory.

Hodeg powered to a sprint victory Friday at the Handzame Classic, a 1.HC-rated event on the UCI’s Europe Tour. He beat out a number of other WorldTour and Pro Continental talents in the process, standing above Sky’s Kristoffer Halversen and Bora-Hansgrohe’s Pascal Ackermann on the final podium.

Hodeg’s ride made him the first ever South American to claim the Flemish one-day.

“It’s difficult to tell you how I’m feeling after this win. It means the world to take my maiden pro victory with Quick-Step Floors, the team I have always dreamt of racing for. I always try to do my best and today it wasn’t any different,” Hodeg said.

“The plan from the beginning of the race was to do the sprint for me and I’m grateful to the boys for their support, they were fantastic. I am super happy to get this success and can tell you I’ll continue to work hard in order to repay the team for their confidence.”

Quintana denounces dishonest use of his name in Colombian politics

Nairo Quintana took to Twitter on Friday to denounce the use of his image in support of a political candidate back home in Colombia. Although he did not mention the candidate by name, he Tweeted that his name and his parents’ have been used to call political meetings in support of a presidential candidate without his consent.

“I’m concentrated on preparing for the Tour, respect please,” he tweeted, including the hashtag #NoEsVerdad — “it’s not true.”

Following the disappointment of his bid for a Giro-Tour double last season, Quintana has been hard at work training this winter, with the six-day Colombia Oro y Paz stage race his lone racing appearance so far this season. Movistar sports director José García Acosta told VeloNews this week that Quintana should remain the team’s main leader for the upcoming Tour despite the arrival of Mikel Landa.