Tour de France champion Geraint Thomas is heading home from the 2019 Tirreno-Adriatico after stomach problems forced him to stop only four days into the seven-day race.
Thomas withdrew two days after Gianni Moscon, who suffered from crashes in the UAE Tour. The 2018 Tour winner quit 133 kilometres into the 221-kilometre stage to Fossombrone in Italy's central region of Marche.
"Stomach issues forced him to quit," said a team spokesperson. "He'd not been feeling 100 per cent in the last days."
Thomas raced the team time trial, the stage to Pomarance – which he won in 2017 – and the sprint stage to Foglino. Leaving Umbria for Marche, another long stage important as he builds for his Tour defence, he climbed off his bike.
Many riders are using the stage race in central Italy to build for Milan-San Remo. Thomas needed the kilometres in his third race of the year after the Volta a la Comunitat Valenciana and Strade Bianche last weekend.
"It's going to be a big weekend," Thomas said on Friday of the long and difficult stages today and tomorrow.
"Tomorrow is a tough little finish and the next day is even harder, so a lot of racing and a lot of pain in the legs to come."
Thomas is due to head to Tenerife for altitude training next. He will return to race the Tour of the Basque Country, the Tour de Romandie and after another Tenerife camp, the Tour de Suisse.
He will not race with Chris Froome prior to the Tour. Froome so far this year has only raced the Tour Colombia in February.
Abandoning the Tirreno-Adriatico stage will cost Thomas some racing miles, but should not affect his preparations for the Tour de France this July 6 to 28.
Following his abandonment, Sky later released a statement confirming illness prevented Thomas from continuing. The Welshman said "it wouldn't have done me any favours" by continuing on.
“I’ve been struggling with stomach issues for a couple of days now," Thomas said. "I wanted to start this morning but I knew as soon as we hit the first climb that I wasn’t right.
“I could have battled through but it wouldn’t have done me any favours. We agreed on the road that it was better I stop and rest up. I’ll head home, have a couple of easy days, and then get back into training early next week.”
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