Chris Froome has pulled out of the inaugural UAE Tour, four days before the event kicks off.
The Team Sky leader was due to race in the Middle East with a powerful line-up of team-mates.
But the British WorldTour outfit announced on Wednesday evening (February 20) that Froome would not be racing.
>>> UAE Tour 2019 live TV guide
Instead, the leadership passes to Michał Kwiatkowski and Gianni Moscon who will share the responsibility.
Froome said: “I’m disappointed to miss UAE Tour, but I need to recover fully from Colombia, instead of going straight into such a big WorldTour race.
“I wish the boys all the best for what I’m sure will be a great event.”
Froome said he underestimated the effect of his time at altitude in Colombia.
Sky are sending an extremely strong squad to the Middle East’s only WorldTour race, including Kwiatkowski, Moscon, Salvatore Puccio, Pavel Sivakov, Michał Gołas, and Kristoffer Halvorsen.
Frenchman Kenny Elissonde has been drafted in to replace Froome.
Team Sky sports director Dario Cioni said: “It’s the first race for Gianni and Michał this season and after some good winter training, they will be able to gauge where they are against the rest of the field.
“The opening team time trial will be very important and will create gaps amongst the GC contenders.”
Froome finished 91st overall in Colombia, but Sky played a major role in the race regardless.
New signing Ivan Sosa finished second overall and second on the final stage behind Nairo Quintana (Movistar), with Colombian compatriot Egan Bernal in fourth on GC.
The new format of the UAE Tour, an amalgamation of the Dubai and Abu Dhabi Tours, has attracted an outstanding field of Grand Tour contenders and sprinters.
An opening team time trial in the UAE, will appeal to outfits looking ahead to the TTT at the Tour de France, while the two mountain finishes will be an appealing test for climbers in the early season.
Kwiatkowski and Moscon will be racing shoulder to shoulder with the likes of Tom Dumoulin (Sunweb), Vincenzo Nibali (Bahrain-Merida) and Alejandro Valverde (Movistar).
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