A knee injury has forced Sam Bennett out of the Baloise Belgium Tour with the Tour de France looming on the horizon later this month.

The in-form Irish sprinter, who has seven victories to his name this season already, would have viewed the five-day race that begins today as good preparation for the Tour, which begins on 26 June.

Deceuninck-Quick-Step confirmed that the rider has an issue with his right knee and will rest up ahead of defending his green jersey in just over a fortnight. He will be replaced by Mark Cavendish.

The team recently confirmed that the 30-year-old will be the designated sprint leader for the Tour.

Last year, Bennett became the first Irishman to win the green jersey at the Tour de France in 31 years.