Bronchitis forces Degenkolb from Paris-Nice

With Milan-San Remo and the rest of the Classics looming on the horizon, John Degenkolb has decided to quit Paris-Nice while he overcomes a bout with bronchitis, Trek-Segafredo announced on Thursday.

Degenkolb, who won both Milan-San Remo and Paris-Roubaix in 2015, was off to a good start this year with back-to-back wins at the Trofeo Campos, Porreres, Felanitx, Ses Salines and Trofeo Palma in Mallorca at the end of January. He grabbed two podium finishes at Volta ao Algarve in February, but seemed off the mark bit in Paris-Nice, where his best finish so far was ninth on the stage 2 sprint into Vierzon.

Degenkolb lost more than 11 minutes the next day on a stage where sprinters Arnaud Demare (FDJ) and Andre Greipel (Lotto Soudal) led the bunch home 38 seconds behind the leaders, and he suffered again on stage 5, losing another 11:36 on a day when sprinters like Greipel and Alexander Kristoff (UAE Team Emirates) finished just seconds behind the winner.

Degenkolb and the team decided to pull the plug on the race Thursday evening and focus on his recovery for the bigger targets like Milan-San Remo later in the month.

"You know, I really don't like to abandon a race. It's not my style, it's not who I am," Degenkolb said in a statement released by the team.

"To be honest, it was a very difficult decision, but with my big goals coming up, I cannot take health risks now," he said. "I hope to recover as quickly as possible. So, no worries, I will be able to 'chase aces' in the upcoming Monuments."

The team said the poor weather conditions and difficult upcoming stages in the eight-stage French race would make it too difficult to recover while racing.

"John cannot lose any time in his recovery process, since the Classics are just around the corner," the team said in a statement sent to the media, adding that the rest of Degenkolb's calendar will likely remain the same.

Milan-San Remo, the first Monument of the year, takes off in Italy March 17, with E3 Harelbeke and Gent Wevelgem the following week.

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