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Magnus Sheffield: ‘Guys are trying to attack farther and farther from the finish’

American says losing Tom Pidcock for the classics is 'a shame' but Ineos Grenadiers can win without him.

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HARELBEKE, Belgium (VN) — Magnus Sheffield says he plans to keep being aggressive as he picks up his classics campaign again at the E3 Saxo Bank Classic.

The WorldTour rookie is riding his first full classics season since stepping up to WorldTour level with Ineos Grenadiers over the winter. He kickstarted his spring at the opening weekend at the end of February with Omloop Het Nieuwsblad and Kuurne-Brussel-Kuurne, and then the GP Denain earlier this month.

The American rider says that aggressive racing has become much more prevalent in men’s racing of late and he wants to be a part of it.

“I think I will keep on being aggressive and learning. You see with the way that racing has changed, it has become a lot more aggressive, and guys try to go from farther and farther away from the finish. I think I’m doing the right thing and I’m going to continue doing that,” Sheffield told VeloNews at the start of the E3 Saxo Bank Classic in Harelbeke.

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Sheffield begins the second part of his classics campaign at the E3 Saxo Bank Classic, ahead of a ride at Gent-Wevelgem this weekend, following a short break from racing after the GP Denain. He spent the time in his new home of Andorra, getting in the training miles.

He has had a strong start to his time with the Ineos Grenadiers with a stage win at the Vuleta a Andalucía last month.

Though he has raced some classics before, he hasn’t previously done it at this level and his cobbled adventure has been something of a learning curve for him. It hasn’t stopped him getting stuck in and he went on the attack at Omloop Het Nieuwsblad and GP de Denain.

“I didn’t really know how I would stack up coming into the season and I think I can be really happy with my fitness and also what I did in the off-season during the first team camps. So, I think I can be really with how the season has started and I just want to carry the momentum forward,” he said.

“It’s about being really strategic in the races and using as little energy in the beginning and saving it for the final. I mean, everyone here is at the highest level so you have to be really conscious about how you apply your power. You have to be really mindful of where is the best place to make the moves.”

Ineos Grenadiers will be without Tom Pidcock for this weekend after the mountain bike world champion was laid low by stomach problem, which kept him out of Strade Bianche and saw him dropped early in Milan-San Remo.

The loss of Pidcock is a blow for the squad, but Sheffield is confident that the team can still contest for wins in the coming weeks with the likes of Dylan van Baarle and Jhonatan Narvaez.

“Tom is a leader and obviously it’s a shame that we don’t have him here but at the same time we are still here with guys that are capable of winning. So, I think the focus is still to come and try to win the race,” Sheffield told VeloNews. “You saw how strong Dylan was last year at Dwars door Vlaanderen and I think he and the other guys are absolutely capable of winning.”