The top two General Classification contenders in the 2013 Giro d’Itlia have withdrawn due to poor health.
Sky’s Bradley Wiggins, 2012 Tour de France winner and Olympic champion, had been losing time in each tough stage.
The Sky team leader started Stage 11 in fourth, 2:05 behind race leader Vincenzo Nibali. After losing another three minutes in the cold, rainy Stage Twelve, dropping to thirteenth overall, Wiggins and his team finally decided to salvage the season by abandoning the race.
Wiggins had admitted before Stage Twelve that he was suffering from the same chest infection which had stricken team mate Dario Cataldo.
“The decision was made with a view to being back to full strength for the Tour,” Wiggins told Sky Sports Italia on Friday morning. “Had we continued in this Giro, the risk was that I did more damage long-term, so I think the team have taken the decision to put a stop to it now and start thinking about getting back to full strength for the Tour.
“I’ am disappointed, but some things you can’t control. It is really disappointing to stop in this way because we came here for so much more.”
Wiggins had built his 2013 season around the Giro, with team mate Chris Froome being tapped to lead the team in the Tour de France and Ritchie Porte suggested as team leader in the Vueltas a España.
It is probably too late to change the team’s Tour de France plans, but Wiggins could still lead the team in the Vuelta, or he might write off 2103 as a Grand Tour season.
Health Issues for Hesjedal
2012 Giro winner Ryder Hesjedal of Garmin-Sharp started this year’s Giro in great shape, but his performance dropped off sharply later in the race, particularly after the Stage Eight time trial.
After Stage 12 Hesjedal was half an hour off the leader’s time. With no chance of even a decent finish and his health not improving, the rider and his team decided he should abandon.
“It’s heartbreaking,” Hesjedal said in a statement from the team.
“I want to be here for my team and for all the people who have supported me to get me here to this point. I built my entire season around the Giro and I came here feeling great, but I have been suffering since the TT. We’re working on it, but we’re not sure what’s wrong.”
“There’s a virus that’s been going around, so it could be that, or severe allergies, or going too deep on the TT combined with both—whatever it is, I’m only getting worse.
“Yesterday’s stage was just too much for me, I fought to get through it and I know everyone suffered but after seeing the medical staff last night, I also know that it’s time for me to go home, get some tests done and get healthy again.”