Italian Fabio Aru (UAE Team Emirates) will miss the 2019 Giro d'Italia, facing surgery for a constructed iliac artery in his left leg.
The 2015 Vuelta a España winner had already begun his season, but now must sit out for up to four months.
"From a certain point of view, I can only be relieved to have highlighted the problem; on the other hand, I am angry about the bad luck that has fallen on me for the umpteenth time and that will force me to miss the Giro d'Italia again," Aru said.
"I will work to try to put an end to this dark period as soon as possible."
The dark period spanned the past years. Aru sat out the 2017 Giro d'Italia that began on his home island of Sardinia due to a crash in training. Last year, he suffered through the race and abandoned on stage 19. After exams, he said that he is not gluten intolerant, but his body struggles to absorb pasta and carbohydrates.
The Vuelta a España did not go well and that frustration showed when he crashed and cursed the team's bike sponsor live on television. Then he pulled out of the running for the Italian national team heading to the World Championships.
The numbers in 2019 began to worry him and the Emirates team.
"It is a feeling that I feel when I have to go all-out, while the symptom disappears at a medium pace, so much so that in training I get the basic numbers," Aru added.
"After the start of the season, Aru again encountered difficulties in getting up to that normal level that he and the team hoped for," team doctor Jeroen Swart said. "Recently, Fabio developed more specific symptoms related to his left leg: he felt feelings of weakness in the limb after intense training and in race efforts.
"In view of these symptoms, further medical tests have shown a constriction of the iliac artery in his left leg. This relatively rare condition is found in professional cyclists given the position adopted on their bikes and can develop progressively over a period of several years."
Other riders had the same problem in recent years - including Joe Dombrowski (EF Education First) - and have returned to racing. The upcoming surgery will see Aru miss upcoming races the Volta a Cataluyna, the Giro di Sicilia and his season goal, the Giro d'Italia.
"In the coming days, with a date to be determined based on the availability of the hospital, Aru will undergo angioplasty surgery at the Nuovo Ospedale di Prato, after which he will have to observe an absolute rest period of one month," said Swart. "For something like this, the return time is estimated at three or four months."
Aru said, "I thank the team for the closeness shown this year and a half and for working with me to find the solution to the problems that have plagued me. We really hope this is the final chapter."
He last won in the 2017 Tour de France and wore the yellow jersey. Since joining UAE Team Emirates, his best result has been a fourth place in a Tirreno-Adriatico stage.
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