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Alejandro Valverde withdraws from Giro d’Italia due to back injury

World champion has had an uncharacteristically low key spring

Alejandro Valverde is to skip the Giro d’Italia due to inury. The world champion, who rides for Movistar, is reportedly still in pain as a result of bone edema in his sacrum following a crash in Belgium.

The Spaniard has had a quiet spring by his standards, with just one win in the rainbow jersey – a stage of the UAE Tour in February.

He managed 7th at Milan-Sanremo and 8th in his first attempt at the Tour of Flanders, but was inconspicuous in the three Ardennes Classics where he is normally such a prominent figure.

After finishing 66th in Amstel Gold and 11th in La Fleche Wallonne, Valverde crashed in training on his 39th birthday while preparing for Liege-Bastogne-Liege. While he started the race a few days later, he abandoned with 100km to go.

Valverde has ridden the Giro only once before, finishing third in 2016.

Commenting on Twitter, he said: "It's a shame to miss a great test like the Giro, but you have to listen to the body and recover to 100% to face the best possible for the rest of the year. Good luck to my Movistar team-mates in Italy."

The team said he would continue his recovery without taking any risks and would look to find his best form in the second half of the season.

Movistar will be led at the Giro by Mikel Landa, who finished third overall in 2015, and Richard Carapaz, who finished fourth overall last year.

The race begins in Bologna on May 11.

Alex has written for more cricket publications than the rest of the team combined. Despite the apparent evidence of this picture, he doesn't especially like cake.

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