Philippe Gilbert has pulled out of Sunday's Liège-Bastogne-Liège in order to focus on his recovery ahead of the Giro d'Italia starting on May 6

Former Liège-Bastogne-Liège winner Philippe Gilbert will not race in La Doyenne on Sunday in order to focus on his recovery ahead of next month’s Giro d’Italia, his BMC team announced today.

The 2011 winner will be replaced in the BMC line-up by 26-year-old American Joey Rosskopf.

BMC’s chief medical officer Dr Max Testa said: “After evaluating Philippe’s condition today, including his fitness level and the pain from his fractured finger, we agree that it is in his best interests to skip Liège-Bastogne-Liège.”

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“In Amstel Gold Race and La Flèche Wallonne he hasn’t been able to sit straight on the bike which has caused some back issues and early onset fatigue on the bike.

“After discussing with Philippe and team management we all agree that it is in his best interest to focus on his recovery before the Giro d’Italia which is only two weeks away. Realistically it doesn’t make any sense to take the risk of a crash or worsening of his back pain on Sunday.”

The 2012 world champion was understandably disappointed to miss a big race in his home country, but accepted that withdrawal was the best thing for the rest of his season.

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“The pain from my fractured finger and the side effects this creates, including changing my position and being twisted on the bike, means it’s not comfortable to ride, let alone race at this intensity,” Gilbert said.

“After giving it a go in Amstel Gold Race and La Flèche Wallonne, I have to be realistic and focus on my recovery and getting back in shape for the Giro d’Italia.

“I can’t race to the best of my ability or even help the team, so I’ll head home to Monaco and recover well in the good weather and be back on my usual training schedule as soon as possible.”

The former Belgian national champion, who won all three Ardennes Classics in 2011, broke his finger earlier this month in an incident with two ‘intoxicated’ men on a training ride near Liège.