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Sam Bennett joins growing list of riders ruled out of Milan-San Remo with illness

Alaphilippe, Stuyven, Colbrelli and Degenkolb are also among riders who will miss the Italian monument due to sickness.

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Sam Bennett (Bora-Hansgrohe) joins a growing list of riders unable to start Milan-San Remo due to raging illness across the elite men’s peloton.

Overnight, defending champion Jasper Stuyven (Trek-Segafredo) also confirmed he will not start after falling ill in the wake of Paris-Nice. Mads Pedersen is a late-hour replacement.

After many riders dropped out of Paris-Nice due to sickness earlier this month, the Milan-San Remo start list is taking a hit with several big-name riders, and key domestiques have had to pull out ahead of the monument.

Former champion Julian Alaphilippe (Quick-Step Alpha Vinyl) is among the biggest names on the list of dropouts from Saturday’s start list.

The Frenchman had a solid week of racing at Tirreno-Adriatico after a heavy crash at Strade Bianche, but picked up bronchitis and will be unable to race. Instead, the team will be looking to San Remo debutant Fabio Jakobsen for a result this weekend.

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Quick-Step Alpha Vinyl has been hit particularly hard by illness this spring with Yves Lampaert on the sidelines after getting sick at Paris-Nice, while key worker Tim Declercq has not raced since February due to a pericarditis diagnosis after catching COVID following the Saudi Tour.

The team announced Thursday afternoon that Davide Ballerini would not race, having previously been named in its starting lineup. Remi Cavagna will replace the Italian rider.

“Our team is so battered … Julian had come out of his fall in the Strade, but then became ill and now also got a throat infection,” team boss Patrick Lefevere told Belgian broadcaster Sporza. “Fabio should try to cling as much as possible. We’ll see if he gets over the Poggio and, otherwise, we have six other guys. Now let the others race offensively — we do that enough already. We don’t give up in advance anyway.”

Another major favorite that will be watching San Remo from the sofa is Sonny Colbrelli (Bahrain-Victorious), who also has bronchitis. With his first monument win under his belt at Paris-Roubaix last season, Colbrelli was the big Italian hope this weekend.

After a good start to the season, he pulled out of Paris-Nice ahead of stage 2 and hasn’t been able to recover in time.

Oliver Naesen (AG2R-Citroën), second in 2019, is also ruled out of the race due to sickness while Sep Vanmarcke is in doubt after illness forced him to skip Nokere Koerse on Wednesday.

The 2015 Milan-San Remo winner, John Degenkolb is another pre-race contender that will be missing from the Milan start line as he too has fallen ill. Degenkolb will be replaced by Chris Hamilton in the seven-man team.

Elsewhere in the peloton, Arnaud Démare’s leadout man Jacopo Guarnieri (Groupama-FDJ) has been forced to pull out of the race after he too picked up bronchitis at Tirreno-Adriatico. He posted on social media that he would be watching the race “on the sofa with blanket and aerosol, hoping to be able to return to racing as soon as possible.”

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