Andy Schleck has been forced to quit this year’s Paris-Nice after suffering from gastroenteritis, his RadioShack-Nissan squad announced on Tuesday morning.

The Tour de France contender from Luxembourg had been off the pace on the opening two stages of the race, losing nearly 11 minutes to stage winner Tom Boonen and overall rivals Bradley Wiggins and Levi Leipheimer on Monday’s stage to Orleans.

A high temperature and stomach problems ruled him out from taking to the start line for Tuesday’s third stage from Vierzon to Le Lac de Vassivière.

“I really wanted to try”, said Schleck in a team statement. “But against sickness you cannot do a lot. I need to let my body recover from this.

“This is bad news, I wanted to perform well in Paris-Nice, but I better not jeopardize the rest of the season. My goals are situated later in the season.”

Belgian Maxime Monfort is the best placed RadioShack-Nissan rider in the race so far. He sits in sixth place overall, 18 seconds adrift of current race leader Bradley Wiggins. Andy Schleck’s brother, Frank, is in 79th place, at three minutes and 25 seconds.

Related links

Andy Schleck off the pace in Paris-Nice time trial

Paris-Nice 2012: Cycling Weekly’s coverage index