Cycling: Wiggins' Tour de France plans hit by illness

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The Independent Online

Team Sky's Bradley Wiggins has been forced to withdraw from this week's Tour of Catalunya because of a stomach infection.

The 29-year-old missed yesterday's start of the Spanish stage race due to the illness, which has kept him off the bike for the last few days.

The three-time Olympic track champion, who finished fourth in the 2009 Tour, must now adjust his race programme to reach peak condition for cycling's most prestigious race in July as he targets a podium finish.

Sky team principal Dave Brailsford said: "Unfortunately, Bradley wasn't able to race in Spain this week, but we're going to assess the situation quickly and adjust his race programme so that nothing is jeopardised.

"He has already proven this year that he is well on his way form-wise so we'll be able to get him back into our race programme fairly easy.

"It's not uncommon that riders have to struggle with illness at this part of the season, but luckily Bradley has already been able to build up a lot form, so this won't be a setback."

Mark Cavendish (HTC Columbia) did begin the race, which finishes on Sunday, looking for his first victory of the season after an off-season plagued by dental problems.

The 24-year-old Manxman was a lowly 89th in defence of his Milan-San Remo title on Saturday.