Italian Fabio Aru, set to be one of the favourites for July’s Tour de France, will miss the rest of the Ardennes Classics season next week, his Astana team said on Sunday.

Aru failed to finish Sunday’s Amstel Gold Race — the first of three Ardennes Classics over the space of a week, with the Fleche Wallonne on Wednesday and Liege-Bastogne-Liege next Sunday — due to pain in his back.

“He’s suffering with his back, probably as a consequence of his fall at the Tour of the Basque Country (which ended last week),” said Kazakh team Astana.

“To avoid other consequences, and to prepare as best as possible for the next big aim of the season — the Tour de France — it was decided to bring forward his anticipated rest period which would have started the day after Liege.”

Aru, just 25, won the Vuelta a Espana and came second in the Giro d’Italia last year and is expected to provide reigning Tour champion Chris Froome with strong competition in July. – Agence France-Presse

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