James Knox has been forced to abandon the Giro d’Italia after battling through injury for eight stages.
The 23-year-old had shown promise in his debut Grand Tour, but was caught in crashes on stages three and four that hampered him.
Knox, who is riding his second season at WorldTour level for Deceuninck – Quick-Step, finished the first real mountain test on stage 12, but following the advice of team medical staff opted not to start stage 13.
The Cumbrian said: “I have been struggling with this knee injury, but we were still hoping I could make some kind of recovery on the flat stages and the rest day.
“Unfortunately, today [stage 12] was the first real test on the climbs, and taking into account how I felt and what’s still to come, we decided to call it a race.”
He will now undergo an MRI scan in Belgium to ensure there are no further complications from the injury, before he and the team will consider his schedule for the rest of the season.
Knox, who moved to Quick-Step from Team Wiggins in 2018, showed his climbing talent on the opening time trial of the 2019 Giro d’Italia, finishing 22nd after the painful finishing climb in Bologna.
The crashes on stages three and four then plagued Knox before he had the opportunity to prove himself on the mountain stages.
He added: “Despite this, it’s been really great to be here, part of the team, and to live this experience.
“I am of course pretty disappointed, as the crashes on stage three and four ruined the fun for me and put me on survival mode, but I hope to return to the Giro d’Italia in the near future because it’s such a great race.”
Quick-Step’s star sprinter Elia Viviani has also left the race as the flat stages in the race dwindle.
The Italian national champion went home without a victory after he was stripped on the win on stage three for dangerous sprinting.
Bob Jungel’s now carries the team’s ambitions as a GC contender, but the Luxembourger lost time on the opening mountain stage of the race.