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Caleb Ewan is the latest rider to declare himself out of Milan – San Remo 2022, the start list crumbling just 24 hours before the beginning of the first Monument of the year.
The Australian sprinter will not start the race due to illness, the number of likely contenders continually being whittled down as defending champion Jasper Stuyven (Trek-Segafredo), Julian Alaphilippe (Quick-Step AlphaVinyl) and Sonny Colbrelli (Bahrain-Victorious) will also all miss La Classicissima.
Sam Bennett (Bora-Hansgrohe) was another rider who would have hoped to be at the sharp end of the 300km-long race culminated in a sprint finish but has been sidelined by the illnesses that tore through both pelotons at the recent Paris-Nice and Tirreno-Adriatico stage races.
These absences will only boost the chances of Tadej Pogačar (UAE Team Emirates) and Wout van Aert (Jumbo-Visma) who both appear in menacing form, and the deterioration in the quantity of riders who can contest the win has even reportedly coaxed Mathieu van der Poel to Milan, where he will make his first start of the season following injury. His lack of race days has meant limited contact with the peloton, which is one way to avoid the illness currently making its way through the WorldTour ranks.
“I am very disappointed that I am not able to take the start of my main goal of the spring season,” Caleb Ewan said, having finished runner-up in last year’s edition. “I was in good form and ready for a hard race, but like many other riders at the moment, I faced a stomach flu at the worst time. Together with the team, we had to decide that it is better to now focus on different goals.”