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Quick-Step Alpha Vinyl confirmed Wednesday that the Frenchman would not be on the start line this weekend. Instead, the team will now look to the in-form Fabio Jakobsen — who is making his debut at the race — for victory.
It is the first time since 2016 that Alaphilippe won’t ride the first monument of the season. He has a strong record at the race, winning it in 2019 and finishing on the podium a further two occasions.
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“Milano-Sanremo is an event we love and which we are always happy to race, but this year we know the chances won’t favor us, as we can’t count on Julian, who we hope will make a fast and complete recovery,” said sport director Davide Bramati. “We have a young team at the start, featuring also Fabio, who has had a great season so far and will make his first appearance here. Despite not being among the favorites, we are still motivated to do a good race.”
Alaphilippe has had a bumpy start to the season after hurting his back in a mass crash during Strade Bianche earlier this month. He road Tirreno-Adriatico last week, after riding for Remco Evenepoel, who finished the race in 11th overall.
“No Milano-Sanremo for me on Saturday. Bronchitis + fever,” Alaphilippe wrote on Twitter. “Sad to leave the team, especially after a difficult week of racing on Tirreno where I felt the legs were coming back well despite my crash at Strade Bianche.”
Pas de @Milano_Sanremo pour moi samedi.
Bronchite + fièvre = ❌🤒
Triste de laisser l’équipe, surtout après une semaine de course difficile sur Tirreno où j’ai senti que les jambes revenaient bien malgré ma chute au Strade Bianche.
Repos et patience au programme.
À bientôt 👋 pic.twitter.com/FOBtGj8eLl
— Julian Alaphilippe Officiel (@alafpolak1) March 16, 2022
In addition to Jakobsen at Milan-San Remo, Quick-Step Alpha Vinyl will take Andrea Bagioli, Davide Ballerini, Mattia Cattaneo, Mikkel Honoré, Florian Sénéchal, and Zdeněk Štybar.
Jakobsen’s start at Milan-San Remo was in doubt as recently as last weekend with his team boss Patrick Lefevere writing in his Het Nieuwsblad column that the team would discuss it with him this week. Lefevere expressed doubts that Jakobsen would be able to make it over the Cipressa in the front group if the pace was too high.
Alaphilippe’s non-start may have been the nudge needed for Jakobsen to earn his place in the starting seven.
The Dutch rider has been in fine form this season with six wins already, including Kuurne-Brussel-Kuurne and a stage of Paris-Nice. If he is able to hold onto the coattails of the peloton in the finale of Milan-San Remo, then he would be the red-hot favorite for the win.