The Tour of Qatar has lost one of its marquee names after Germany’s Andre Greipel pulled out of the race due to illness Thursday.
Greipel, who claimed his maiden Tour de France stage win last year, has enjoyed a blistering start to the season winning three stages and a pre-race criterium at the Tour Down Under two weeks ago.
But his bid to test his early season sprinting legs against the likes of British world champion Mark Cavendish will have to wait as he is suffering from fever, caused by a stomach virus, according to his Lotto-Belisol team.
“We want to let Andre get better,” Lotto team manager Marc Sergeant said Thursday.
“We have told the organisers (ASO). The Tour of Qatar is a hard race, if you line up and you’re not 100 per cent it could compromise the rest of your season.”
Greipel is scheduled to return to the peloton for the Tour of Oman on February 14-19.
The Tour of Qatar, which traditionally favours sprinters, is held from February 5-10.