Romain Bardet has been forced to abandon the Giro d'Italia after succumbing to illness.
Friday's stage 13 proved unlucky for the Frenchman, who rides for Team DSM, as he was forced to climb off his bike with about 114km still to go on the day.
Bardet had ridden himself into contention for the maglia rosa, and was sitting in fourth on general classification at the beginning of stage 13.
It deprives the race of one of its leading contenders for the win before it hits the Alps next week.
In a tweet, DSM said: "We are sad to confirm that Romain has abandoned the Giro. After becoming sick during yesterday’s stage, his condition worsened overnight and despite all efforts, he is no longer in a position to continue the race."
He trailed Juan Pedro López, the race leader, by just 14 seconds, and it was thought that this might finally be the chance for him to challenge for the top step of the podium at a Grand Tour, following his two previous podium finishes at the Tour de France.
Speaking on the second rest day, Bardet said that "maybe" himself, Mikel Landa (Bahrain-Victorious) and Richard Carapaz (Ineos Grenadiers) are the "three best" at this year's race.
Now his rivals are left to challenge for victory. There are still 11 riders within 90 seconds of López, including his young teammate Thymen Arensman, who will now be expected to step up in the absence of his leader.
It is a disappointing end to his challenge, which looked in a good place after the opening stages of the Giro. The Frenchman came into the race after winning the Tour of the Alps, his first GC win in almost ten years.
Up to this point, it had been an impressive Giro for Team DSM, with two riders in the top 12, and a stage win for the unheralded sprinter Alberto Dainese this week,
Now, they will be forced to refocus their efforts, potentially on stage wins, but also on their young hope Arensman. The Dutchman has looked capable if unthreatening so far, but if he has the staying power in the mountains he could still turn in an impressive result come Verona.
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