“I am very disappointed about leaving the Giro after such a strong start in good condition, but I do not feel healthy and I am not in the position to start the race in this condition,” Kittel said. “I want to thank my team for their support these past few days and wish them the best of luck for the rest of the race.”
Kittel won the road stage in Belfast and the stage south to the Republic in Dublin. Thanks to his wins, he carried the red points jersey.
Kittel debuted in the Giro d’Italia this year after already winning four stages in the Tour de France last year. However, he is unable to repeat that feat in the Giro’s homeland and to show off the points jersey.
The white and black train will now switch its attention to Luka Mezgec. Tom Veelers plans to lead him out in the stage today in Bari, where a light rain has dampened the roads.
“It’s a shame. Yeah, he won two stages, but he wanted to continue into Italy,” Veelers told Cycling Weekly on the start line in Giovinazzo.
“It was impossible, though. He woke up last night and started feeling sick. This morning he told us he’s disappointed to leave after the work we’ve done for him.”
“Two days ago, after the third stage he already indicated that he did not feel 100%,” sports director, Marc Reef said. “Yesterday morning he said that he felt better, but this morning at breakfast he had the same complaints and after a few check-ups with our team physician we saw that the fever had deteriorated and so we made the decision together that he should not continue.”
“Kittel won with a huge move in Dublin, Cavendish won by centimetres in California, but you can’t say who’s improving and who’s not,” Mezgec told Cycling Weekly.
“For sure, we are going to see some great head-to-head clashes in the Tour de France.”
“Right now,” Veelers added, “I just hope he gets better and feels better because he was disappointed to leave the Giro after it just returned to Italy.”