André Greipel (Arkéa-Samsic) has quit the Critérium du Dauphiné 2019 after medical tests have revealed he is suffering from a stomach virus.
The German sprinter did not take the start line on stage seven after extensive tests showed the presence of a bacteria in his stomach that requires treatment and rest.
It is not yet known how long it will take Greipel to recover or when he expects to return to racing but his inclusion in the 2019 Tour de France, which is less than a month away, could be put into jeopardy.
Despite having 11 Tour de France stage wins to his name, his last victory in the race came two years ago on the Champs-Élysees, and the 36-year-old has struggled to find the form that has seen him pick up a total of 22 Grand Tour stage wins.
In 2018, Greipel’s most notable victories were a couple of stage wins each at the Tour Down Under and the Tour of Britain, but this year he has only managed one victory, a stage of La Tropicale Amissa Bongo, a race held in Gabon part of the UCI Africa Tour.
Speaking in April earlier this year, Greipel said his “instinct as a sprinter is gone”, adding “I just don’t feel ready to fight for the right positions any more. Physically I am fine. When I sprint in training, I still have the same capabilities as my best times.”
Greipel moved down from the WorldTour ranks into the Pro-Continental division at the end of last season, after his former team Lotto-Soudal abruptly announced the German’s departure during the 2018 Tour de France.
His new French team Arkéa-Samsic plan to join the top tier for the 2020 season, though, and were confirmed to have been given one of the wildcard spots for the 2019 Tour de France, meaning Greipel would make his eighth appearance at the Grand Tour.
It is not yet known whether this stomach virus will affect the German’s ability to take the start line in Brussels on July 6.