Bradley Wiggins replaced by Elia Viviani in Team Sky's roster for Friday's E3 Harelbeke
“It’s just a change in schedule that we received from the coaches,” Team Sky told Cycling Weekly.
“The plan at the moment is that he’ll race in Ghent-Wevelgem, but not line up tomorrow in E3 Harelbeke.”
Sir Bradley will fly to Belgium late Friday evening and likely stay through the northern classics leading to his last race in Sky’s black and blue colours, Paris-Roubaix on April 12.
Instead of racing in E3 Harelbeke alongside Luke Rowe, Geraint Thomas and Ian Stannard, Wiggins will delay his race return following Paris-Nice. His last race day was stage six, on March 14 in Nice.
Sky published its eight-man E3 Harelbeke roster in the last 48 hours: Bernhard Eisel, Andrew Fenn, Christian Knees, Salvatore Puccio, Luke Rowe, Ian Stannard, Geraint Thomas and Elia Viviani. Italian sprinter Viviani was called in to replace Wiggins.
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On Saturday, Wiggins will train on the Flemish roads likely near the team’s base in Kortrijk and on Sunday, he will start in the Ghent-Wevelgem one-day WorldTour race. He last raced Ghent-Wevelgem in 2009, when Norwegian Edvald Boasson Hagen won.
Ghent-Wevelgem should provide Wiggins the needed race speed and training as he builds towards Paris-Roubaix. The race covers 239 kilometres from Deinze, south of Ghent – the town where Wiggins was born – to Wevelgem and includes nine climbs with the cobbled Kemmelberg climb twice.
“He’s going to do Ghent-Wevelgem because he had a good training block the last two weeks,” Sky’s sports director, Servais Knaven told Cycling Weekly.
“With Ghent-Wevelgem and De Panne, that could be a better solution for Bradley. He performed well in the 2009 Ghent-Wevelgem when it was raining and windy all day.”
Wiggins tentative schedule also includes the Three Days of De Panne, the Tour of Flanders, Scheldeprijs and Paris-Roubaix.
“It’s about getting into that mindset,” Wiggins said of the races in February. “They are all very different races, Paris-Roubaix is so different than the others.
“It’s not about just me preparing for Paris-Roubaix, ’cause there’s guys like Ian, Luke and Geraint who have goals in other races, it’s about being a part of that group and doing a good job for those guys and being a good team-mate so that when it comes my turn they will repay it.”