Gilbert out of Paris-Nice with illness

Belgian hoping to recover for Milan-San Remo

A respiratory illness has forced Philippe Gilbert (BMC) to abandon Paris-Nice after three stages. Gilbert was already suffering from the illness in the lead-up to the race and the poor weather conditions in the opening days has hindered any recovery.

"Phil's condition is nothing to be overly concerned about, however the cold weather and snow that we saw in the opening prologue and first two stages of the race have done nothing but aggravate his condition," said BMC Racing Team Doctor, Dr. Dario Spinelli.

Paris-Nice is the third race in a row that Gilbert has failed to finish, after the one-day races Omloop Het Nieuwsblad and Le Samyn. Gilbert abandoned Le Samyn, which took place last Thursday, due to a lingering back problem. His next race is set to be Milan-San Remo on March 19, and La Primavera marks his first major target of the year. Gilbert has never won the Italian monument but has twice finished on the podium with two third places.

"I really love this race so it is disappointing to have to stop racing. But I have one of my biggest goals for the season, Milan-San Remo, around the corner and in order to perform well there I need to fully recover from this illness and be in the best shape possible," said Gilbert.

BMC were also forced to make changes to their Paris-Nice roster before the race after Rohan Dennis fell ill. Stage 3 of Paris-Nice from Cusset to Mont Brouilly is the first chance for the general classification riders to test their legs with six classified climbs. The race is due to end this Sunday, with Richie Porte continuing to lead the team.

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