Spaniard pulls out citing fever

Alejandro Valverde (Movistar), hot on the heels of his victory at the Ruta del Sol, has pulled out of Paris-Nice after suffering from a fever.

The Spaniard took his 100th career victory at the Ruta del Sol, and looked in sumptuous form as he beat the likes of Alberto Contador (Trek-Segafredo), Thibaut Pinot (FDJ) Mikel Landa and Wout Poels (Team Sky) to overall victory in Andalucia.

But his Movistar team announced on Friday afternoon, two days before the Paris-Nice’s first stage in Bois-d’Arcy, that Valverde has been suffering from a virus that morning, and wouldn’t travel to northern France with the team.

The 36-year-old has never won the prestigious French race overall, but finished third overall in 2012 behind winner Bradley Wiggins and Dutchman Lieuwe Westra.

He’ll now have to wait to make his racing return at the Volta a Catalunya, before turning his focus to his season’s main aim at the Ardennes Classic.

Valverde is replaced in the Movistar Paris-Nice team by Basque climber Víctor de la Parte.

Meanwhile, José Joaquín Rojas, who broke his leg on one of the final stages of the Vuelta a España last year, will return to racing at Strade Bianche on Saturday after Italian Danielle Bennati pulled out with sickness.