• Simon Geschke will get a chance to ride for himself at Milan-San Remo (Getty) (Getty Images)Source: Getty Images
Giant-Alpecin will put its weight behind Simon Geschke at Milan-San Remo on Sunday in what is a starkly different tact to last season.
Sophie Smith

Cycling Central
18 Mar 2016 - 8:03 AM  UPDATED 18 Mar 2016 - 11:03 AM

The outfit is still feeling the ill effects of a January training camp accident that side-lined its defending race champion John Degenkolb and has forced a general spring classics overhaul.

Tom Dumoulin was set to co-lead the squad at the 291km Monument on the back of Paris-Nice in which he suffered from sickness. The team was monitoring his condition but overnight announced he had been scratched with Bert De Backer stepping in as a replacement.

Giant-Alpecin in recent years has focused on controlling the race for Degenkolb but will employ a different approach this season given its opportunistic leader, who is aiming for a top 10 result.

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“It’s now not up to us in the first place, it’s more for Orica-GreenEdge, for example, with Michael Matthews, for Katusha with Alexander Kristoff and for Tinkoff with Peter Sagan, they are the teams that have to control the race,” sports director and coach Marc Reef said. “We can sit more behind those teams and look from that side to the opportunities that are coming.

“The best way to make a result is to not wait for a sprint,” Reef continued.

“We have a guy who can follow attacks in the final, for example, but can also do a sprint for the top 10.”

Bookie favourite Kristoff has already lamented the loss of rival Degenkolb, noting it is one less team that will work for a group finish that could also rely on the weather.

Reef has tipped the real race will still be determined within the key Cipressa as well as Poggio climbs, the latter which can offer ground for long range attacks.

“When you have bad weather it’s a harder race at the end and with good weather it’s easier for teams to control it,” Reef said. “But still with the good weather, like three or four years ago, that was the last time that three guys stayed in front and that you could prevent a sprint in the end.”

Tour de France stage winner Geschke earned a protected role at the prestigious race based on previous performances. The German in 2012 finished 12 seconds adrift of winner Simon Gerrans (Orica-GreenEdge) for 13th.

“[He] showed already that [he] can be there in finals of big races,” Reef said.

Geschke and the recovering Dumoulin are not set to lead Giant-Alpecin in marquee classics beyond the Italian spectacle.

Staff will further analyse performances at Paris-Nice and Tirreno-Adriatico moving forward to determine a new strategy for the Tour of Flanders as well as Paris-Roubaix, which Degenkolb won in 2015.

The squad is slowly recovering from the January accident in which six of its riders were injured when they collided with a car in Spain. Key classics squad members were involved and Giant-Alpecin as a consequence was unable in early season, or preparation races, to field full quota teams.