Canberra cyclist Michael Matthews will miss the Tour de France for the first time in five years and instead target the Giro d'Italia this season.
Team Sunweb announced their race line-ups on Wednesday, naming Matthews as a starter at the Milan-San Remo on August 8 and the Giro d'Italia from October 3-25.
But the three-time Tour stage winner was surprisingly omitted from the French event and Ardennes Classics, which he had reportedly been preparing for during the coronavirus-forced shutdown.
Matthews, who signed a two-year contract extension with Sunweb last year, told Cycling News he would speak to his management about the program change, but still looks forward to the Italian circuit.
"I went back to the team and said I would like to stick to the programme that I had at the start of the year, which was the Tour and the Classics but they stuck with the Giro and San Remo and Il Lombardia at the start of the year," Matthews said.
"I have the Giro, which is nice. I love the Giro, I've been trying to fit it into my programme since 2015 now. I have amazing memories of the race, so I wouldn't say I'm missing out. I'm excited."
Matthews has made two appearances at the Giro d'Italia and returns for the first time since 2015, when he wore the leader's pink jersey.
The 29-year-old Canberran will start his season at the 300 kilometre Milano-San Remo in August, in what will be his first competitive race since March.
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The Tour de France was initially scheduled to start on June 27 but was postponed by two months due to the coronavirus pandemic.
Six stages of a virtual Tour de France will instead take place over the first three weekends of July on Zwift, with Matthews and countryman Rohan Dennis to compete.
Twenty-three men's teams and 17 women's teams have registered for the virtual bike race, including the last three winners of the real-life event.
Matthews won the green jersey at the 2017 Tour for winning the sprinters points classification.