Miguel Ángel López has abandoned the Giro d'Italia on stage four due to a left hip injury.
The Astana-Qazaqstan rider was first reported to have left the race with the reasons unclear, before his team confirmed that the Colombian was suffering from a problem with his leg.
In a statement, Astana said: "Unfortunately, López had to abandon shortly after Stage 4 started. During the last few days he was suffering from left hip injury. We will communicate about more info about rider statement as soon as we get more from team doctor."
The Colombian left the race on just the fourth day, under 45 minutes into Tuesday's stage, which is set to head up Mount Etna at the end of the day.
The Giro was López's first grand tour back with Astana, after he spent 2021 at Movistar. During his time there he abandoned the Vuelta a España in controversial circumstances, leaving the race despite being high up on the general classification, and being injury free.
If, as reported, he has been suffering from the injury for a number of days, it poses the question whether he started the Giro with the condition, or suffered it during the opening stages.
The Colombian finished 59th on Saturday's time trial, 42 seconds behind the winner, Simon Yates, showing that he was not at his best at this Giro.
It now creates problems for his Astana team, who were thought to be throwing their weight behind López for the Grand Tour. Also on the team is Vincenzo Nibali, who currently sits 12th on general classification. While the two-time Giro winner has obviously performed exceptionally well at his home race in the past, at 37, his ability to keep up with the other general classification contenders is unknown.
López has shown his form in recent weeks, winning a stage of the Tour of the Alps, so his withdrawal is a blow for his squad. Other riders, like Joe Dombrowski and David de la Cruz, will now be expected to step up in their leader's absence. It might free them up to go for stage wins over the three weeks.
The last time the Giro visited Sicily, in 2020, the Colombian was also forced to abandon the race due to a crash on the first stage.
Astana are the second team down to seven men, after Bahrain-Victorious lost Jan Tratnik on Sunday's stage.
Simon Yates of Team BikeExchange-Jayco, who currently sits second on general classification, was involved in a crash early in stage four, and suffered a right knee injury, although he is continuing in the race at present, with his condition unknown.
🇮🇹 RACE: @giroditalia Unfortunately, @SupermanlopezN had to abandon shortly after Stage 4 started. During the last few days he was suffering from left hip injury.We will communicate about more info about rider statement as soon as we get more from team doctor.#Giro pic.twitter.com/C7qh76gFHtMay 10, 2022
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