Colombian sprinter's broken hand gives opportunity to Gilbert, Alaphilippe and Viviani to fight for leadership role
Despite having a plethora of options available to them, Quick-Step Floors will have to rethink their tactics ahead of the first Monument of the season.
“Fernando was the leader of the team, and we had a good opportunity with all the riders, but Fernando in the last two years was always there to win,” Bramati said.
“First year he crashed with about 100m to go and last year he was unlucky crashing in the training with two days before. So now we will see what we can do and change who starts as leader now. Unfortunately this is a part of cycling and crashes are part of the sport but we need to look forward and not back.”
Bramati added how he believed both the team and Gaviria were set for a strong confidence boosting result if he had reached the finish unscathed.
“I think if he doesn’t crash today the team did a perfect job at the end entering the last corner. I think he was in the perfect position to win and take more confidence for Saturday and start as leader.”
As Gaviria’s surgery and subsequent recovery places doubt on his participation for the rest of the spring Classics, Quick-Step Floors do have the luxury of a strong set of riders fighting for leadership. A three pronged attack is now the most likely strategy.
“Without Gaviria in Via Roma, [Elia] Viviani will be our leader for the sprint but we also have [Philippe] Gilbert and [Julian] Alaphillippe who will be very important for the Poggio.
“Last year Julian was able to follow [Peter] Sagan and [Michal] Kwiatkowski. But Julian and Viviani will be coming from Paris-Nice and there was also some bad weather so I don’t know how well they have recovered,” Bramati said.
Alaphillipe was centimetres from glory at La Primavera last year, losing out in a three-man sprint after the trio broke away on the Poggio.
Gilbert has two third-place Milan-San Remo finishes already but will be look to reach the top step of the podium as he strives to win all five Monuments in his career.
“It is a dream for him and at the end of the day Saturday is a very important race, as is Paris-Roubaix in a few weeks.” Bramati added.
Regardless of who Quick-Step Floors choose as their leader on Saturday, the peloton is set to face some wet weather and headwinds along the Mediterranean coast in the longest race of the year.