Richie Porte has been pulled from Team Sky's squad for the Giro d'Italia, seemingly because of an illness plagued Spring wrecking his chances of reaching race form for May 9.
The British team has put Porte's withdrawal down to their plan to have him ready to support Chris Froome at the Tour de France.
"Richie was always going to ride the Tour de France this year, but this now means that he can fully focus on being in the best possible shape without the added challenge of having ride the Giro as well." Explained Tim Kerrison, Sky's head of performance support.
Porte has already had to pull out of both Tirreno-Adriatico and the Volta a Catalunya this Spring after suffering a bout of gastroenteritis. Without those crucial racing miles in his legs he was already facing a race against time to be fit for the Giro.
He is currently set to ride Liege-Bastogne-Liege on April 27.
Porte was one of Froome's key support riders at the Tour last year, and apart from one bad day in the Pyrenees was the last team mate left with Froome in the mountains.
As well as the Tour, Porte will start the Criterium du Dauphine in June.
The withdrawal currently leaves the team leaderless at the Giro, and possibly short of riders as Colombian Sergio Henao continues to sit out racing while his blood values are monitored at altitude.
Sir Bradley Wiggins will lead Sky's team at the Giro del Trentino (April 22-25) as his program is re-shuffled once again. He was a last minute addition to the Tour of Flanders team after Ian Stannard and Chris Sutton were injured in crashes the previous weekend. Wiggins will ride Scheldeprijs on Wednesday and Paris-Roubaix, one of his season's targets, on Sunday.
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