Richie Porte has withdrawn from Paris-Nice and will instead line out at the Volta a Catalunya later this month. The Trek-Segafredo rider suffered a bout of bronchitis after starting his season in Australia and has decided to alter his race programme in the wake of a low-key performance at the recent UAE Tour.
Porte started his 2019 season with second overall at the Tour Down Under, where he won atop Willunga Hill for the sixth year in a row. He then took fifth at the Jayco Herald Sun Tour but struggled in the UAE last week, placing 50th overall.
"A bronchitis sustained after the Jayco Herald Sun Tour has caused a setback in Richie’s build-up to the spring races, and his performance in UAE Tour confirmed this. Given these circumstances, Paris-Nice unfortunately comes too early for Richie," Trek-Segafredo team doctor Scott Major said in a statement released by the team on Tuesday.
On joining Trek-Segafredo from BMC during the off-season, Porte highlighted his desire to remain competitive in week-long stage races through the year rather than treating them as a stepping stone to the Tour de France. The Tasmanian is a two-time winner of Paris-Nice and won the Volta a Catalunya in 2015. He returns to the Catalan race for the first time since 2016, when he placed fourth overall.
"Paris-Nice was an important early-season goal for the team but also for me personally. I’ve won this race in 2013 and 2015 and I was really looking forward to go back there and try to win it for the third time," Porte said.
"I am very sorry that that is not going to happen this year and I would like to thank the team for their understanding. I am confident that with a good block of solid training between now and the end of March, I will be ready to compete at the highest level in Volta a Catalunya."
The Volta a Catalunya takes place from March 25-31, and Porte joins a notably strong provisional start list for the race, which already features Chris Froome, Egan Bernal (Team Sky), Enric Mas (Deceuninck-QuickStep), Alejandro Valverde (Movistar), Adam Yates, Simon Yates (Mitchelton-Scott), Rigoberto Uran (EF Education First), Thibaut Pinot (Groupama-FDJ), Steven Kruijswijk (Jumbo-Visma) and Romain Bardet (AG2R La Mondiale).
Paris-Nice gets underway in Saint-Germain-en-Laye on Sunday, with John Degenkolb and Jarlinson Pantano headlining the Trek-Segafredo selection in Porte's absence.
Trek-Segafredo team for Paris-Nice: Julien Bernard (Fra), Giulio Ciccone (Ita), Koen de Kort (Ned), John Degenkolb (Ger), Alex Kirsch (Lux), Jarlinson Pantano (Col), Edward Theuns (Bel)