Phinney out of Roubaix due to Flanders concussion

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Although he was initially hopeful that he would be able to ride Paris-Roubaix, Taylor Phinney and the Cannondale-Drapac team have decided that the American rider will miss the race due to ongoing concussion.

Phinney fell during last Sunday’s Tour of Flanders, hitting his head. On Monday he said that he was feeling better than expected and was hoping to have recovered in time for next Sunday’s race. However a reappearance of symptoms has led to a rethink.

“Until this yesterday, I was feeling pretty optimistic about being able to ride Roubaix this weekend,” Phinney said in a team communication issued on Thursday. “I’d been feeling OK at the dinner table and hanging out.

“But then yesterday was my first ride outside. I started riding at got a little bit of a headache. Then it went away and I thought, ‘ok, I’ll be fine.’ But then it came back and I started experiencing some emotional ups and down that reminded me of the last concussion I had.”

Phinney is the second big name from the team to be forced out of the race. Sep Vanmarcke, who has finished second, fourth and fourth in the past, was also hurt in a crash in Flanders and earlier said he would not take part.

“I’m frustrated,” said Phinney, who has had more than his share of injuries in recent seasons. He returned from a bad crash at the 2014 US national championships and, more recently, got through a knee injury to make the start line for Flanders. “I’ve been nursing myself this whole Classics season to get into these races and be with the guys. But this just happens.

“This happened my first season as a pro, but then I ended up having a pretty nice second part of the season. On the positive end, I’m more motivated. I feel more motivated than I have in a long time to put in effort for the summer. I look forward to the Tour of California and the first stage of the Tour de France. These things excite me.”

Dimension Data rider Tyler Farrar is the only other American listed on the provisional start list.

Team manager Jonathan Vaughters explained Cannondale-Drapac’s approach to such injuries.

“With even the mildest of concussions, we sit the rider six days,” he stated. “The rider may be able to train some in that period, but racing is out of the question. Normally we encourage training to occur on the Tacx. We evaluate the rider daily, and after six days he must take a cognitive test to make sure the effects of the concussion have subsided. At that point, they may or may not be able to resume competition.”

The team will be led by Dylan van Baarle, who was fourth last Sunday, and the in-form Sebastian Langeveld.

The latter said that he believed they will be a factor.

“Missing Sep, it’s a big loss,” he stated. “But we showed in Flanders that we are, as a team, we’re fit. Everybody made a big improvement compared to last year. I had a mechanical in Flanders. I was on a good day. So… I’m confident that Dylan and I will be up there.”

As regards tactics, he said that a couple of factors will likely play a part. “We have to see what the wind does. It’s Boonen’s last Roubaix. That could be a factor on the strategy when you have a whole team riding for him like Quick-Step. But we’ve got to wait until Saturday to talk tactics.”

Van Baarle said that the squad would adopt the same mindset as it did for other races. “We have still a very strong team and I think we can still do something in France.

“Normally I would say Flanders suits me better, but in Flanders on the steep climbs I struggled a little. Maybe this year Roubaix suits me better. Last year I felt good, but I was behind some crashes and I was always racing from the back. If that doesn’t happen this year, then we can have a good result, I think.”

Paddy Bevin and Wouter Wippert have been drafted in to replace Phinney and Vanmarcke. They, Will Clarke, Tom Scully, Tom Van Asbroeck and Ryan Mullen will back van Baarle and Langeveld.

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