Chris Froome has pulled out of next week's Tirreno - Adriatico stage race in Italy with a bad back.
- Richie Porte will head to Italy and lead Team Sky
- Geraint Thomas will take on responsibility at Paris-Nice
- Paris-Nice organiser ASO not happy with 'cavalier' attitude

Chris Froome has pulled out of Tirreno – Adriatico next week after he suffered a slight inflammation to a joint in his lower back. Froome was due to lead the team in the only stage race he didn’t win in 2013.

The Tour de France winner will now rest before returning to racing at the Volta a Catalunya, the seven-stage race that starts in Calella, north east Spain on March 24.

Froome posted on his Twitter feed today: “Slight inflammation in my lower back, so I’ll be putting my feet up for a few days on doctors orders. No racing for me in Tirreno next week.”

“It’s disappointing to miss out on a week of solid racing, but rather safe than sorry at this point of the season.”

Team Sky will now juggle its various rosters in this busy period of the season. Instead of moving Sir Bradley Wiggins in to the leader’s position at Tirreno, they will draft in Australian Richie Porte. Wiggins has now pulled out of Strade Bianche tomorrow and has been replaced by Ben Swift.

Porte, who’s main aim in 2014 is the Giro d’Italia, was due to ride Paris-Nice, a race he won last year, but will instead head to Italy. Porte was fourth at this year’s Tour Down Under and second at the recent Ruta del Sol.

This leaves Sky’s Paris-Nice team without a leader. Step forward Geraint Thomas. The young Brit is building towards the classics season and rarely gets the chance to lead the team at the WorldTour stage races thanks to the presence of the likes of Wiggins, Froome and Porte.

Organisers of the event, ASO, have however reacted angrily to the news that defending champion Porte was pulling out of their race. “We find it cavalier to have the reigning champion pull out just before the start,” Tour de France director Christian Prudhomme told AFP.

“We were told that to win points for the world rankings, the Tirreno was more favourable due to it’s technical characteristics.”

Sky’s Tirreno squad looks particularly strong. Riding with Wiggins and Porte will be; Dario Cataldo, Bernhard Eisel, Peter Kennaugh, Mikel Nieve, Kanstantsin Siutsou and Ian Stannard.