Richie Porte (Ineos Grenadiers) has abandoned the Giro d'Italia after falling ill ahead of Friday's stage 19. The Australian started the day in Marano Lagunare, but was forced retire early on in the race.
He was dropped from the bunch on the first climb of the day, the third-category Villanova Grotte, after just 70km of racing. Ahead of three further categorised climbs on stage 19, it was not looking good for Porte. Bora-Hansgrohe were pulling on the front when Porte was dropped off the back of the peloton, which they continued to do once he had been distanced.
He was expected to be a key domestique for Richard Carapaz in the final two road stages of the race, as the Ineos rider leads the general classification by just three seconds ahead of Jai Hindley. It leaves Ineos with seven riders left in the race, while their rivals Bora-Hansgrohe currently still have their full complement of eight.
The news was confirmed by the Giro's broadcaster, and later by the British team themselves. "We can confirm Richie Porte has abandoned the Giro d'Italia during stage 19 due to sickness," they tweeted.
We can confirm @richie_porte has abandoned the #Giro d'Italia during stage 19 due to sickness. pic.twitter.com/PnkI05IskhMay 27, 2022
Bradley Wiggins, who is reporting from within the race on a motorbike for Eurosport-GCN, told viewers that he had seen Porte throwing up while riding, adding that Porte shouted "gastro" to him, suggesting that he was suffering from a stomach illness.
This Giro was expected to be Porte's final Grand Tour of his long career, as he is retiring at the end of the season. He has raced 17 in total, and finished 3rd at the 2020 Tour de France while riding for Trek-Segrafredo.
Since his return to Ineos Grenadiers, the Australian has been employed as a luxury helper for the team's GC riders. This was season in this Giro, as Porte was visible pacing Carapaz on the climbs, including on Thursday's stage 19.
Porte had been in impressive form on the run into the Giro, finishing fourth at Tirreno-Adriatico and seventh at the Tour of the Alps. It was thought that he could be a useful backup option for his team at the Italian Grand Tour, but dropped out of GC contention quite early on.
Carpaz will now be forced to rely on his six remaining teammates in the mountain-heavy stages 19 and 20. Porte's withdrawal could end up having a massive impact on the whole race, which is still yet to be decided.
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