Peter Kennaugh leaves the Giro d'Italia and is back on his way to the UK tonight to continue his path towards the Olympics. He suffered from muscle problems in his upper gluteus and pulled out early in Wednesday's stage to Cortina d'Ampezzo in the Dolomite Mountains.
"We didn't want to take any chances with him this close to the end of the race. With one eye on the Olympics we decided the best course of action is get him back to Manchester," Sky's team manager, David Brailsford told Cycling Weekly. "He'll see the doctors tomorrow, get that sorted out and move on."
Kennaugh helped Great Britain set the world record and win the team pursuit at the Track World Championships in Melbourne in April. He came to the Giro d'Italia with only 188 kilometres of road racing in his legs this year.
His role was to gain experience in Grand Tours, starting his third, and help Mark Cavendish win sprints. He was the second to the last lead-out man in the sprints, dropping off Geraint Thomas and Cavendish for three wins.
At the bus, parked with the others on a small road near Falzes, Kennaugh exited with his head down this morning. He rode to the start line, but according to the official race communiqué, "immediately" abandoned the stage.
Sky's executives followed the race in the team car, including Chief Executive Jeremy Darroch. After the stage, they took Kennaugh back to London on their private jet. At 19:45, he leaves from Innsbruck proud of his work.
"Peter is a very talented road rider, when he turns his attention to the road fully next year we are going to see a lot more of him," Brailsford explained.
"He gained experience in the lead-out. He was thrown into that situation for the first time. It was a bit epic to start with, but he did very well."
Brailsford said that Kennaugh's work in the Giro was perfect in light of the Olympics.
"Two great things: endurance volume and, by contributing to the lead out, he got that high-end power development type of work. It seemed to suit him perfectly. He needs to bank that now, recover and start his track endurance work again."
Giro d'Italia 2012: Latest news
Izagirre wins on Grand Tour debut
Cavendish silences Cipollini
Sky tightens grip on white jersey
Rodriguez versus Hesjedal in Giro title fight
Cavendish's Sky lead-out still on learning curve
Orica-GreenEdge to strengthen sprint train in Tour de France
Schleck struggles on with dislocated shoulder
Rodriguez up against more experienced rivals in Giro
Bak from worker to winner at the Giro
Giro d'Italia 2012: Live coverage
Giro d'Italia 2012 live text coverage and schedule
Giro d'Italai 2012 stage 13 live text coverage
Giro d'Italia 2012 stage 12 live text coverage
Giro d'Italia 2012 stage 10 live text coverage
Giro d'Italia 2012 stage six live text coverage
Giro d'Italia 2012 stage four live text coverage
Giro d'Italia 2012: Stage reports
Stage 17: Rodriguez wins stage to consolidate lead
Stage 16: Izagirre claims Basque breakaway victory
Stage 15: Rabottini takes tough win in Giro
Stage 14: Amador wins Giro's first high mountain stage as Hesjedal reclaims lead
Stage 13: Cavendish makes it three
Stage 12: Bak attacks to win
Stage 11: Ferrari wins Giro stage on ride to redemption
Stage 10: Rodriguez wins thrilling finale to take leadStage nine: Ventoso wins in Frosinone as Goss and Cavendish fall
Stage eight: Pozzovivo takes another Giro win
Stage seven: Hesjedal moves into Giro lead
Stage six: Rubiano solos to epic Giro stage win
Stage five: Cavendish bounces back for another stage win
Stage four: Garmin-Barracuda win TTT to take lead
Stage three: Goss wins in Horsens as Cavendish and Phinney crash
Stage two: Cavendish wins in Herning
Stage one: Phinney wins time trial
Giro d'Italia 2012: Photo galleries
Stage 17 photo gallery
Stage 16 photo gallery
Stage 15 photo gallery
Stage 14 photo gallery
Stage 13 photo gallery
Stage 12 photo gallery
Stage 11 photo gallery
Stage 10 photo gallery
Stage nine photo gallery
Stage eight photo gallery
Stage seven photo gallery
Stage six photo gallery
Stage five photo gallery
Stage four photo gallery
Stage three photo gallery
Stage two photo gallery
Stage one photo gallery
Giro d'Italia 2012: Blogs
Charly Wegelius' Giro blog: Conserving energy for the final week
Charly Wegelius' Giro blog: Holding on to the lead
Charly Wegelius' Giro blog: Getting the team time trial right
Giro moto blog: Hurray for rest day
Giro moto blog: Stage 10
Giro d'Italia 2012: Teams and riders
Giro d'Italia 2012 start list
Giro d'Italia 2012: TV guide
Giro d'Italia 2012: British Eurosport TV schedule
Giro d'Italia 2012: The Big Preview
Cycling Weekly's Giro d'Italia section
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