Chavanel pulls out of Paris-Roubaix with illness

Chavanel was one of France's best hopes to win the the "Hell of the North"

PARIS (AFP) — Sylvain Chavanel of IAM Cycling, one of France’s best hopes for a Paris-Roubaix win, has pulled out of Sunday’s race.

The 34-year-old, five-time national time trial champion, who also won the French national road race title in 2011, was one of the favorites to become the first French winner of the “Hell of the North” since Frédéric Guesdon in 1997.

But he complained of breathing difficulties following last Sunday’s Ronde van Vlaanderen (Tour of Flanders), in which he finished 19th, and was later diagnosed with “infectious bronchitis and asthma, which requires rest and adequate treatment,” his Swiss team said.

Chavanel added: “I’m disappointed to not be taking the start but in my state I’m not able to do so.”

Chavanel’s best Paris-Roubaix finish was eighth in 2009.

He will be replaced by Italian Matteo Pelucchi, who won a stage at the Tirreno-Adriatico stage race last month.