The Brit is fully focused on being fit for the Monument Tour of Flanders next Sunday (April 3), so will skip the Ghent-Wevelgem

Team Sky’s Ian Stannard went to the start of Ghent-Wevelgem this morning, but decided against participating due to a cold. The team says that he has a sore throat and slight fever and hopes he rebounds quickly for the Tour of Flanders next Sunday.

Stannard placed third in the E3 Harelbeke behind teammate Michal Kwiatkowski two days ago Friday. Today, he stepped off the black bus and into a team car while his remaining seven team-mates mounted their carbon bikes. He returned to the team’s hotel in Kortrijk to recover.

“It’s just a cold that you’d have in normal life, but a bike rider is under stress,” Sky coach, Rod Ellingworth told Cycling Weekly.

“Ian wants to race, but he knows logically he’d only dig himself in a big hole. This is a big race, it’s a WorldTour and he wants to race because he loves these Classics. This is a precaution, and it’s just can we stop it now before the other races.”

Team Sky could already start him in the Three Days of De Panne on Tuesday if he is feeling better. His goal is to be ready for the Tour of Flanders on Sunday and Paris-Roubaix the following Sunday.

“Only they know how they feel and if they are on the edge of being sick. Sometimes you have to be sensible,” added Ellingworth.

“Yesterday evening, he started to feel it. He said his throat felt a bit rough and then woke up this morning, feeling a bit worse. If he was going out to do a normal job, no sweat, but he needs to take a precaution.

Stannard will instead stay in nearby Kortrijk, where the team bases itself each year for the cobbled Classics, and watch Luke Rowe, Andy Fenn and Elia Viviani race to Wevelgem.

Ghent-Wevelgem

Luke Rowe will lead Team Sky at the 2016 Ghent-Wevelgem (Watson)

“He has really good form, his morale is great. The way the team is riding is super, they rectified E3 the other day, Luke brought the group back and sacrificed himself. It was great team work,” Ellingworth explained.

“We have a decent group for the Classics. Roubaix is Ian’s race, he’d love to be fantastic and that is what we are aiming for with him. Along the route, it doesn’t always go to plan and you have to divert left and right sometimes. This is a little diversion, and hopefully he can get back on track, but there’s no saying he will.

“A major setback? It’s a concern. It’s a shame for him personally. Ideally, he wanted to race today. He was up for it.”

Other riders are in the same boat. Belgian star Greg Van Avermaet (BMC Racing) skipped E3 Harelbeke due to stomach problems, but is back racing again today. Alexander Kristoff (Katusha) skipped today’s race with a slight fever.

“Is Flanders in danger? It can be, but I hope not. It’s still a week off,” 2015 Flanders winner Kristoff said. “Usually, I recover faster than a week. I think I’ll be OK before Flanders.”