Hugh Carthy has abandoned the Vuelta a España 2021.
The British general classification contender came into this year's edition of the Spanish Grand Tour with the hope of improving on his podium position from last year.
After minimising his losses in the opening time trial in Burgos, the 27-year-old began to slip back on GC on the first mountain finish of the race, Picón Blanco on stage three.
Then on the punchy uphill finish on stage six, Carthy was caught out in crosswinds and was forced to dig deep to re-join the peloton late in the stage, before he struggled on the 1.9km-long final climb, losing almost three minutes to the GC contenders. Meanwhile his team-mate Magnus Cort rode to stage victory from the breakaway.
The EF Education-Nippo rider the abandoned the race part way through stage seven, the first real mountain test of the 2021 Vuelta.
His team have not yet released details of why their GC leader abandoned.
Speaking at the start of the stage, Carthy said: "Yesterday was a good day for the team with Magnus' win, and a disappointment for me.
"Life goes on and we still have a couple of weeks to go. We're still here.
"I think I paid for the chase, but before that I wasn't really in a great place. I wasn't really in the race.
"We take each day at a time. There's still plenty of opportunities. It's important to go forward with a positive mind, not panic and rush, it would only make things worse."
Carthy began to struggle early on stage seven from Gandía to Balcón de Alicante, which featured six categorised climbs, including a tough first category uphill finish.
The Preston-born rider was dropped from the peloton 140km from the finish on slopes of the Puerto la Llacuna, the first categorised climb of the day, before he stepped off the bike as the leading group still had 64km left to race.
More to follow
Thank you for reading 20 articles this month* Join now for unlimited access
Enjoy your first month for just £1 / $1 / €1
*Read 5 free articles per month without a subscription
Join now for unlimited access
Try first month for just £1 / $1 / €1