Thor Hushovd has been forced to delay the start to his 2010 season due to illness and will not ride the Etoile de Bessèges stage race that kicks off in the south of France on Wednesday.
Hushovd was expected to lead the Cervélo TestTeam in the French race but his team announced he would delay his debut. Hushovd is now scheduled to begin his season at the Volta ao Algarve on February 17. He will then target Omloop Het Nieuwsblad in Belgium on February 27.
“Of course it’s boring having to sit out the first race of the year but I have to think long-term and don't want to risk running my body down so early in the season,” Hushovd said.
“There are many important races to come. Now I’ll take the opportunity to prepare well for the Volta ao Algarve in just over two weeks.”
Hushovd will be replaced at in the Cervélo line-up by Marcel Wyss.
The Etoile de Bessèges sees Portugal’s Joao Correia make his debut in Cervélo TestTeam colours.
The 34 year-old was a talented amateur rider but opted to study in the USA and became Associate Publisher at Bicycling magazine. He decided to lose weight and get fit again in 2006 and rode for the Bissell Pro Cycling team before gaining a place with Cervélo TestTeam.
The Cervélo TestTeam line-up includes Inigo Cuesta, Stefan Denifl, Ted King, Brett Lancaster, Oscar Pujol and Dominque Rollin.
Also on the start list are Sunday’s GP La Marseillaise winner Jonathan Hivert (Saur Sojasun), 2009 Etoile de Bessèges winner Thomas Voeckler (Bbox Bouygues Telecom), Enrico Gasparotto (Astana), Steve Cummings (Team Sky), Nicolas Roche (Ag2r) and Johnny Hoogerland (Vacansoleil).
The five-day race begins in Aigues Mortes - near the city of Montpellier - on Wednesday and finishes in the town of Bessèges on Sunday.