Jan Ullrich has put back the start of his season by a month after suffering a viral infection.
Ullrich had been due to race next month in Murcia
The German, seen as Lance Armstrong's greatest rival in his bid for a seventh Tour de France win, had been due to ride in next month's Tour of Murcia.
But the 31-year-old will now get his season under way at the Tour of Sarthe on 5 April.
Armstrong's season, in contrast, will get going at the prestigious Paris-Nice on 6 March.
The delay to Ullrich's season will be seen as a blow as he bids to add to his only other Tour de France win in 1997.
Meanwhile, 2003 world road race cycling champion Igor Astarloa will be out of action for two months after suffering a double fracture of his right arm and wrist.
The 28-year-old sustained the injuries during a race in Marseille, France, last Sunday and will now miss the opening classic races of the season, including the Milan-San Remo.