Greg Van Avermaet (CCC Team) is forced to refocus ahead of the E3 BinckBank Classic and Ghent-Wevelgem after "riding himself to death" in a frustrating series of races cumulating in with Milan-San Remo.
Van Avermaet lost position ahead of the climb to the Poggio on Saturday and missed what he saw as a chance to win.
"I rode myself to death, doing 480 watts with nine sprints of 800 watts to reach the others," he told Het Laatste Nieuws.
"You must take your own responsibility. I don't blame my team for anything, I blame myself. I could have hit my head through the wall. I was so mad at myself. I am disappointed in myself. Maybe I should comfort myself with the thought that I had no guarantee that I was going to win that sprint."
Van Avermaet rode to 42nd in San Remo behind winner Julian Alaphilippe (Deceuninck-Quick-Step). It was the second time, after 2017, that he left the Italian Monument upset about missing his chance.
"And for the second time I was not there. I was too far on the Poggio. Frustrating, especially when you see how many people rode to the finish line. I had to be there," he said.
"I felt pretty good. At a kilometre and a half from the foot of the Poggio, I was still in the front of Michael Schär's wheel, but I lost him in the turns and pushing. I tried to find my own way, but everywhere I went I got blocked."
He needed to be "more attentive, more aggressive" leading to Milan-San Remo's final climb.
"It's not like in the Tour of Flanders, for sure. The run-up [to the Poggio] is too easy, so to speak, we are still together with 200 riders. You can't let your legs speak for themselves. That makes it a little harder, and I don't like it," he continued.
"There have been years when I was the first on the Poggio. But there are no excuses. Simple, it's my fault."
The frustration comes after finishing second in Omloop Het Nieuwsblad and a stage in Tirreno-Adriatico.
Van Averment, winner of the 2017 Paris-Roubaix and the 2016 Olympic road race, returned home to Belgium to face a series of cobbled races starting with the E3 BinckBank Classic on Friday and Ghent-Wevelgem on Sunday. Next weekend, he leads the Tour of Flanders team.
"It's always exciting to get to this point in the season, the final races before Tour of Flanders and Paris-Roubaix," he said in a press release.
"I feel good and am confident in the shape I have after Italy. It was frustrating to have a few near misses so I'm going to channel that frustration into these classics and hope to be back on the podium."
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