Chris Froome has withdrawn from today’s Liege-Bastogne-Liege with a chest infection.
The 2013 Tour de France winner had been expected to return to action at La Doyenne for the first time since March, where he finished sixth overall at the Volta a Catalunya.
But an announcement made today on the Team Sky website confirms that Froome will not make his return to action in the last of the Spring Classics.
Team Sky’s Dr Richard Freeman said: ““Unfortunately Chris has been suffering from a mild chest infection. After an examination this morning we concluded that the best course of action would be to withdraw him from Liege-Bastogne-Liege as a precautionary measure, which will allow him the best chance of recovery ahead of the Tour de Romandie.”
In a further blow to the squad in Liege, Peter Kennaugh has also been ruled out of racing today by what Freeman described as “an unrelated illness”. Kennaugh has been pulled from today’s race in a bid to regain full health for the Giro d’Italia, which starts in Belfast in less than a fortnight’s time.
And with the Tour de Romandie set to start on Tuesday (April 29), the team has suffered further bad news in the shape of an illness for Vasil Kiryienka.
The Belarussian will be replaced in the squad bound for Switzerland by Australian sprinter, Chris Sutton. Freeman said the swap would give Kiryienka time to recover for a key pre-Tour de France training camp to be held in Tenerife.
Richie Porte, however, remains on Team Sky’s roster both for today’s race in Liege and for the Tour de Romandie. The Tasmanian had been best by illness in the early season and forced to sacrifice leadership of the team at the Giro d’Italia.
Porte, a key lieutenant to Froome at last year’s Tour de France, was unable to defend his Paris-Nice title in March and, like Froome, has not raced since the Volta a Catalunya.
None of Team Sky’s riders was expected to start among the favourites today, however. BMC Racing’s Philippe Gilbert, Movistar’s Alejandro Valverde, Michal Kwiatkowski (Omega Pharma-Quickstep) and defending champion, Daniel Martin (Garmin-Sharp) head the favourites list.