Manchester-based Tour de France champion Sir Bradley Wiggins will not defend his title this year due to an on-going knee injury.
The Team Sky rider pulled out of the Giro d’Italia on May 18 due to a worsening chest infection and returned home to assess his fitness and knee problems.
Wiggins,33, who is based at the city’s National Cycling Centre, has not been able to prepare properly for the event starting June 29, and has explained his frustration at the news.
“It’s a huge disappointment not to make the Tour,” he said. “I desperately wanted be there, for the team and for all the fans along the way – but it’s not going to happen.
“I can’t train the way I need to train and I’m not going to be ready. Once you accept that, it’s almost a relief not having to worry about the injury and the race against time.
“I’ve been through this before, when I broke my collarbone, so I know how it works. I’ll get these sorted, set new goals for this season and focus on those.
“This team has so many riders in great shape, ready for selection and we set incredible standards for performance which shouldn’t be compromised. We need to have the best chance to win.”
Team Sky’s hope of a second consecutive tour champion now firmly rest on the shoulders of Tour of Oman winner Chris Froome.
Yet despite stating that Froome was to lead Team Sky’s assault on the yellow jersey, Sir Dave Brailsford insists the loss of Wiggins is a huge for both team and rider.
”It’s incredibly sad to have the reigning champion at Team Sky but not lining up at the Tour,” said Sir Dave. “But he’s a champion, a formidable athlete and will come back winning as he has before.
“With illness, injury and treatment Brad has gone past the point where he can be ready for the Tour. It’s a big loss but, given these circumstances, we won’t consider him for selection.
“He hasn’t been able to train hard since the Giro and now he needs further rest.
“While we all know these things happen in sport, it doesn’t take away from the fact that this is a huge disappointment for everyone in the team – and above all for Brad.”
Image courtesy of ITN, via YouTube, with thanks