ALEX Dowsett has suffered a massive blow.

The rider has been left out of this year’s Movistar line up for the Tour de France, which is due to start in Leeds on Saturday.

It will be even more hurtful to the 25-year-old, from Cock Clarks, as the tour blasts through Essex on Monday on what would have been a home stage on the roads through Uttlesford and Braintree districts and a section through Chelmsford.

The Spanish team cited ‘breathing difficulties’ as the reason for leaving Dowsett out of the nine-strong team which includes Alejandro Valverde, Imanol Erviti, John Gadret, Jesús Herrada, Beñat Intxausti, Ion Izagirre, Rubén Plaza, José Joaquín Rojas and Giovanni Visconti.

Movistar team manager Eusebio Unzué said: “It’s so sad for us to leave Dowsett out of the team - despite his efforts, he couldn’t get to his best form due to breathing problems resulting from an infection he suffered; on the other hand, Visconti contested the win until the very end in the Italian championships on Saturday, which indicates he’s into good condition.”

A clearly disappointed Dowsett didn’t want to comment on his exclusion from the final Movistar line-up.

A statement from his agent confirmed that Dowsett will now concentrate on the Commonwealth Games at the end of July.

The statement said: “(He) was taken ill at the recent Tour De Suisse and will not recover in time to be part of the nine-man Movistar team. He is expected to be fully fit for the Commonwealth Games, where he will team-up with Sir Bradley Wiggins.”