By Andrew Hood
After a solid effort at Tirreno-Adriatico with eighth-place overall, GeorgeHincapie has decided to bypass this weekend’s Milan-San Remo.
“I just had a little cold during Tirreno, so I was not feeling 100 percent,”Hincapie told VeloNews. “I prefer to just rest and recover.”Hincapie is scheduled to race next at Three Days of De Panne, whichhe won in 2004, before ramping up for his run at the spring classics. Secondoverall last year at Paris-Rouabix, he’s hoping to step up on higher onthe podium.Discovery Channel will line up with a solid team looking to throw somecurveballs at the marquee favorites. Leif Hoste has shown he can go thedistance, taking second at the 2004 Tour of Flanders, while Max Van Heeswijkhas finished well on Via Roma, including a fifth place in 2004.
“I know that Hoste is very fit right now as we saw by his second-placetime trial finish this week,” sport director Dirk Demol said on thepaceline.com.“(Roger) Hammond and (Vladimir) Gusev could also be contenders, and Maxcan certainly sprint with anyone if he makes the selection.”
Discovery Channel for Milan-San RemoRoger HammondMatt WhiteMax Van HeeswijkVladimir GusevBenoit JoachimLeif HosteMichael BarryPavel Padrnos
No Di Luca, either
ProTour champion Danilo Di Luca won’t be sporting Liquigas colors thisweekend after a flare-up of the granuloma that bothered him during Tirreno-Adriatico.According to a report Tutto Bici, team doctors diagnosed the problemand made an incision that will require treatments with antibiotics anda forced rest of at least five days.Liquigas will line up with an experienced team looking to put Luca Paoliniinto the mix in his first major race as leader. Paolini was Paolo Bettini’sside-kick for years at Quick Step – most notably when he finished thirdat Milan-San Remo after breaking away with eventual Bettini over the Poggio– and has finally made the jump up to be a team captain.Also racing are 2004 Paris-Roubaix champion Magnus Bäckstedt, StefanoGarzelli and Franco Pellizotti.Liguigas for MSRMagnus BäckstedtKjell CarlstromStefano GarzelliMatej MugerliVicenzo NibaliLuca PaoliniFranco PellizottiStefano Zanini
Cunego on the go-go
Damiano Cunego is defying convention that says Milan-San Remo is toodangerous for grand tour candidates and will be starting La Classicissimathis weekend for his Lampre team.Cunego – who kick-started his season at the Clasica Almeria and theVuelta a Murcia in Spain last month – will also race in the Settimana InternazionaleCoppi and Bartali, Giro di Trentino and the Tour de Romandie in the run-upto the Giro d’Italia.Leading the team will be Alessandro Ballan, third at Tirreno-Adriaticothis week. Top sprinter Daniele Bennati will not be starting.Lampre for MSRDamiano CunegoAlessandro BallanDanilo NapolitanoClaudio CorioniGiuliano FiguerasPaolo FornaciariGorazd StangeljMatteo CarraraT-Mobile sans Zabel
T-Mobile will be lining up for Saturday’s Milan-San Remo without thesteady presence of Erik Zabel, a four-time winner of “La Primavera.” Zabel,of course, made an acrimonious departure from T-Mobile and will race alongsideAlessandro Petacchi at Milram.T-Mobile sport director called his team “underdogs” for this weekend’s294km race. Instead of lining up with a strong sprinter, watch for themto try to sneak away over the final climbs at Cipressa and the Poggio.“Without a Petacchi, Freire or Boonen in our ranks, we don’t have thefirepower,” he said on the team’s webpage. “We are a compact team and wehave options.”T-Mobile for MSRLorenzo BernucciMarcus BurghardtLinus GerdemannSergey IvanovAndreas KlierStephan SchreckPatrik SinkewitzSteffen Wesemann
Kirsipuu’s spring KO’d
Jaan Kirsipuu’s spring classics campaign has been derailed with injuries.According to Credit Agricole team officials, the 36-year-old Estonian isstill hurting from a crash in last week’s Tirreno-Adriatico. Kirsipuu –a winner of more than 100 races in his career, including four stages inthe Tour de France – hurt his left foot and still cannot walk without pain.Gerrans out of Commonwealth Games
Simon Gerrans – the Aussie rider who crashed during GP d’Ouverturela Marseillaise in February – has been forced to pull out of the CommonwealthGames.According to a report from the Australian cycling federation, Gerranswill undergo surgery in a French hospital this week on his left shoulderafter he developed at Tirreno-Adriatico an infection in the scar tissuefrom his surgery five weeks ago.“While I was racing in Tirreno it swelled up and we kept icing it andsettling it down but one night it didn’t go down and just got more andmore swollen and then it burst and it was full of pus,” Gerrans said ina press release. “I am shattered because I worked so hard to get goingagain, back fit and racing so I could compete in the Commonwealth Gamesand I got so close but I can’t do it.”The Tour Down Under champion said it could be up to a month before he’sracing again, but said he might be able to make the trip to Melbourne towatch his teammates.Volta goes huge
The peloton for May’s Volta Ciclista a Cataluyna will be busting atthe seams.Organizers for the 86th edition of the week-long stage race have decidedto invite five Spanish continental teams to increase the “spectacle,” meaningthere will be 200 riders at the start line.One-day classics regularly have 25 teams in the peloton, but a groupthis big in a stage race over narrow roads could make for nervous riding.In addition to the 20 ProTour teams, Comunidad Valenciana, Relax, AndaluciaPaul Versan, Kaiku and 3 Molinas will line up for the race May 15-21.