Still reeling from the crash which saw six riders hit by a car in January, the Giant-Alpecin team has taken the difficult decision not to ride this year’s Omloop Het Nieuwsblad.
Milan-Sanremo and Paris-Roubaix champion John Degenkolb, Chad Haga, Warren Barguil, Max Walscheid, Fredrik Ludvigsson and Ramon Sinkeldam were the riders struck by the vehicle, which was driving on the wrong side of the road.
Degenkolb almost lost a finger and suffered a fracture to his forearm plus wounds to his leg and hip. The other riders incurred a variety of injuries. As a result of those, the team has been left short in many races.
Zico Waeytens would likely have led the team in the race in just under a fortnight’s time, but told Sporza that he accepted the news.
“It is a decision of the team, I have no problem,” he said. “Of course I do respect it, I have no choice.”
“The team has been affected by exceptional circumstances, people have to understand.”
The crash was a huge blow to the team’s Classics aspirations. It went from having a rider, in Degenkolb, that would rank amongst the favourites for several of the races but who instead was forced to cancel his spring participation in such events.
Given that it is already dealing with the departure of Marcel Kittel to Etixx-QuickStep, it is on the back foot and trying to regain momentum.
Waeytens said that he preferred not to talk about the crash in Spain. “It goes well with John, that is the main thing,” he said. “We are now looking forward with the team we have. We’ll see when John is added again.”