Paris - One of the best hopes for a home success, Sylvain Chavanel, has pulled out of Sunday's Paris-Roubaix Classic, his IAM team said Wednesday.
The 34-year-old national time-trial champion was set to be one of the major hopes to become the first French winner of the 'Hell of the North' since Frederic Guesdon in 1997.
But he complained of breathing difficulties following last Sunday's 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."
The six-time (five times in the time-trial and once in the road race) French champion's best Paris-Roubaix finish was eighth in 2009.
He will be replaced by Italian Matteo Pelucchi, who won a stage on the Tirreno-Adriatico stage race last month.