Marcel Kittel, the winner of successive stages in Belfast and Dublin, abandoned the Giro d’Italia yesterday as it returned to Italy, due to a fever, denying him the chance of a third consecutive stage win.
The 26-year-old Giant-Shimano rider told his team’s official website, teamgiantshimano.com: “I am very disappointed about leaving the Giro after such a strong start in good condition, but I do not feel healthy and I am not in the position to start the race in this condition.
“I want to thank my team for their support these past few days and wish them the best of luck for the rest of the race.”
Briton Ben Swift was less than impressed by the decision, which encouraged the sprinters to race but had no impact on the general classification.
The Team Sky rider, who was second on stage three in Dublin, was 173rd on the stage.
Swift wrote on Twitter: “That’s bull****!!! Why do all the sprinters have to risk it and not the GC guys. Thanks.”