Defending Milan-San Remo champion Fabian Cancellara has opted not to ride this weekend’s Milan-San Remo (March 21) for health and family reasons.

The Swiss Saxo Bank rider failed to finish Tirreno-Adriatico last week due to poor condition, and has taken the decision to miss Saturday’s Italian one day classic in order to ride the five day Settimana Internazionele di Coppi e Bartali next week.

“I regret not being able to do Milan-San Remo which for obvious reasons is a race that has a special place in my heart, but I need to be realistic,” Cancellara stated via a team press release.

“It?s the best decision based on the form I have right now and more importantly, for family reasons, I wasn?t able to do the race on Saturday either way.

“I want to stay focussed and since I had to exit Tirreno-Adriatico, I need to get more stability and I can only get that from racing and continue my work. I look forward to be gaining more form in the Italian stage race and hopefully, that will help me get some progress and form.”

Saxo Bank team manager Bjarne Riis added: “We completely support his decision and we?re happy that he is already back racing next week.

“We need to be realistic about his current shape and thus take things step by step. The race next week is perfect for him to re-enter the racing programme and in that way he definitely still has a realistic chance to play an important role in Classics up north.”

Cancellara’s season started well, with a prologue win at the Tour of California. He then left the American stage race due to illness, and has struggled with his form since. Things got worse when a training crash in early March cast doubts over his participation in the spring classics.

Cancellara has an enviable string of wins to his name, and is one of the most versatile riders in the current professional peloton. His victories include Tour de France stage wins, Paris-Roubaix, Olympic time and World Championship time trial titles and many more.

Another of the hot favourites for Milan-San Remo, road race world champion Alessandro Ballan (Lampre) has also withdrawn from the race due to a continuing viral illness.

We will be covering Saturday’s Milan-San Remo in full here on www.cyclingweekly.com and in Cycling Weekly magazine

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