Illness strikes Wiggle-Honda on the eve of Friends Life Women's Tour

British Olympic champion Joanna Rowsell pulled out of event on Sunday, with prolific winner Giorgia Bronzini also suffering going into inaugural edition of the race.

Joanna Rowsell, British road race national championships 2013

Wiggle-Honda will ride on at the inaugural Friends Life Women's Tour despite being hit by illness.

Olympic team pursuit champion Joanna Rowsell pulled out of the team's six-rider squad on Sunday, and double world road race champion Giorgia Bronzini admitted in Tuesday evening's press conference that she is also ill.

In a team press release, British time trial champion Rowsell said: “I have been ill with flu and having followed the doctor’s advice I have been withdrawn from the race.

“I am obviously very disappointed not to be riding as I had been really looking forward to being part of the event in it’s first year.”

Meanwhile Italian rider Bronzini, who took 17 of the team's 22 victories in their maiden 2013 season, declared that she is not feeling 100 per cent fit at the pre-race media call in Kettering.

“I'm excited to be here. My shape is not the best at the moment, as you can tell from my voice,” she said.

“But I'm here with my team, and we will try to put strongest team here. Our objective is to put one girl – maybe [Kiwi rider] Linda Villlumsen - in the GC and try to win some stages.”

Asked if Rowsell's non-participation would hurt the team, Bronzini added: “One British girl more would be nice for us. For sure she'd be excited to ride, but anyway she is sick.”

Australian Peta Mullens was the late replacement for Rowsell, while former German champion Charlotte Becker filled the slot vacated by British youngster Elinor Barker, who was initially named among Wiggle's six starters. It's unknown whether or not Barker's non-participation was down to illness.

Laura Trott and Dani King are scheduled to take today's stage one start in Oundle.

The Women's Tour 2014: Ones to watch

The 2014 Friends Life Women’s Tour fields a peloton steeped in power, pace and talent. Here we preview a handful

The Women's Tour 2014: Provisional start list

List of starters for the inaugural Women's Tour, May 7 to 11

Thank you for reading 5 articles this month* Join now for unlimited access

Enjoy your first month for just £1 / $1 / €1

*Read 5 free articles per month without a subscription

Join now for unlimited access

Try first month for just £1 / $1 / €1

Nick Bull is an NCTJ qualified journalist who has written for a range of titles, as well as being a freelance writer at Beat Media Group, which provides reports for the PA Media wire which is circulated to the likes of the BBC and Eurosport. His work at Cycling Weekly predominantly dealt with professional cycling, and he now holds a role as PR & Digital Manager at SweetSpot Group, which organises the Tour of Britain.