Change of programme for ex-world champ as he continues recovery from viral infection that forced him out of Giro

BMC Racing have confirmed that Thor Hushovd, who spent seven days in the race leader’s maillot jaune and won two stages in last year’s Tour de France, will miss this year’s race as he recovers to the same viral infection that forced him out of last month’s Giro d’Italia at the end of the opening week. The Norwegian has decided to skip the Tour so as not to compromise his ambitions of challenging in the Olympic road race at the end of next month.

Instead, the former world champion, who won the green jersey in the Tour in 2009 while riding for Cervelo TestTeam, will take part in the Tour de Pologne, which runs from 10 to 16 July, with BMC Racing’s team doctor, Max Testa, explaining that while Hushovd is fit to race, he is not in sufficient shape to withstand the demands of a three-week Grand Tour.

“We did perform some tests at the Mapei Sport Center after the Giro and found that he had signs of a viral infection from earlier in the year," said Testa. "But everything now is normal."

BMC Racing Team Directeur Sportif John Lelangue added: "We obviously would have liked to have had him on our Tour de France team. But after evaluating everything, we think this programme will better help him meet his own goals."

Hushovd moved into the race lead in the 2011 Tour after Garmin-Cervelo, which he rode for last year, won the Stage 2 team time trial at Les Essarts. He would lose the overall lead to Thomas Voeckler on Stage 8, but swapping the maillot jaune for the rainbow jersey, went on to win Stage 13 in Lourdes and Stage 16 in Gap, attacking from the break on both occasions.

Speaking of his change of plans, Hushovd reflected: "I needed more time to recover and it's always been a goal of mine to do well at the Olympics. I also hope to be a part of the BMC Racing Team's team time trial squad at the world championships and to compete in the road race as well. So there are still a lot of goals left to prove to myself this year."

Hushovd’s absence from the BMC Racing line-up when the Tour gets under way at the end of this month does, however, go some way towards resolving one of the issues that has been the subject of speculation since he and Philippe Gilbert moved there at the end of last season – namely, how he would fit into a team whose main focus during the three-week race must be defending Cadel Evans’ title defence.

Born in Scotland, Simon moved to London aged seven and now lives in the Oxfordshire Cotswolds with his miniature schnauzer, Elodie. He fell in love with cycling one Saturday morning in 1994 while living in Italy when Milan-San Remo went past his front door. A daily cycle commuter in London back before riding to work started to boom, he's been news editor at road.cc since 2009. Handily for work, he speaks French and Italian. He doesn't get to ride his Colnago as often as he'd like, and freely admits he's much more adept at cooking than fettling with bikes.