As Team Sky enjoys its best Classics season yet, with Ian Stannard winning Het Nieuwsblad and Geraint Thomas taking E3 Harelbeke, one of their team-mates has been forced to miss out on the action due to injury: Peter Kennaugh.
The British road race champion's name has appeared on several provisional start lists, including Strade Bianche and Milan-San Remo, only for Sky to miss him out of its final selection.
The usually media-savvy Sky along with Kennaugh himself have been quiet on the reasons behind his lay-off from racing, despite being contacted by Cycling Weekly, but now the reason has been revealed in his Jupiter London Nocturne column for the Daily Telegraph: he has suffered a recurrence of the sacroiliac joint injury that he first suffered prior to the 2012 Olympic Games in London.
Since supporting Chris Froome to victory in the Ruta Del Sol in Spain at the end of February, where Kennaugh also rode strongly to place sixth overall, the 25 year old has not raced on the road due to the niggling injury.
After the enforced rest, Kennaugh is hoping to return to competition in the Ardennes Classics, comprising the Amstel Gold Race (April 19), La Fleche Wallonne (April 22) and Liege-Bastogne-Liege (April 26).
"I started riding again last week and plan to have a couple more weeks building the fitness back up," Kennaugh wrote in his Telegraph column. "Hopefully I’ll do the Ardennes Classics in mid-April – which were a big target of mine at the start of the year, although realistically it will be beyond my power to get a result there now."
After the Ardennes Classics, Kennaugh hopes to make it to Sky's altitude training camp on Tenerife in June, which he says is "a key staging post ahead of this summer’s Tour de France".
Last year, Kennaugh was disappointed not to have been selected to ride when the Tour de France started in Yorkshire, and instead went on to win the Tour of Austria overall as his team-mates suffered a torrid time in France, with leader Froome crashing out.
Kennaugh admitted that he's been a poor spectator over the past few weeks, but he has enjoyed the success of his team-mates and friends, several of whom have followed the same path as Kennaugh through the British Cycling system on the track and road since being a junior.
"Watching Geraint Thomas, Ben Swift and Luke Rowe lead the field at Milan-San Remo... was a massive boost. These are guys I have come through the ranks with. I’ve said it before but it really feels as if we have arrived as a group now."
Kennaugh also received another boost earlier this week, when he was named Isle of Man Sportsman of the Year for the second time in three years.
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