British Olympic champion Joanna Rowsell pulled out of event on Sunday, with prolific winner Giorgia Bronzini also suffering going into inaugural edition of the race.

Wiggle-Honda will ride on at the inaugural Friends Life Women’s Tour despite being hit by illness.

Olympic team pursuit champion Joanna Rowsell pulled out of the team’s six-rider squad on Sunday, and double world road race champion Giorgia Bronzini admitted in Tuesday evening’s press conference that she is also ill.

In a team press release, British time trial champion Rowsell said: “I have been ill with flu and having followed the doctor’s advice I have been withdrawn from the race.

“I am obviously very disappointed not to be riding as I had been really looking forward to being part of the event in it’s first year.”

Meanwhile Italian rider Bronzini, who took 17 of the team’s 22 victories in their maiden 2013 season, declared that she is not feeling 100 per cent fit at the pre-race media call in Kettering.

“I’m excited to be here. My shape is not the best at the moment, as you can tell from my voice,” she said.

“But I’m here with my team, and we will try to put strongest team here. Our objective is to put one girl – maybe [Kiwi rider] Linda Villlumsen – in the GC and try to win some stages.”

Asked if Rowsell’s non-participation would hurt the team, Bronzini added: “One British girl more would be nice for us. For sure she’d be excited to ride, but anyway she is sick.”

Australian Peta Mullens was the late replacement for Rowsell, while former German champion Charlotte Becker filled the slot vacated by British youngster Elinor Barker, who was initially named among Wiggle’s six starters. It’s unknown whether or not Barker’s non-participation was down to illness.

Laura Trott and Dani King are scheduled to take today’s stage one start in Oundle.