SILANDRO, Italy (AFP) — Dutchman Robert Gesink, who began the Giro d’Italia hoping for a podium finish, dropped out of the race on Friday after consulting doctors, his Blanco team announced.
Blanco said Gesink, a climbing specialist, had felt unwell since completing a tough, 20.6-kilometer uphill time trial on Thursday, which had left him in 12th place overall at more than 10 minutes behind leader Vincenzo Nibali (Astana).
“Robert Gesink didn’t feel well during and after the time trial on Thursday. After consulting with the team’s medical staff he has pulled out,” said the Dutch team.
The news will come as a blow to the team, which had been counting on stage wins and a top finish for Gesink to help boost its bid to attract a major sponsor. Currently, Blanco has no title sponsor.
Gesink’s early retirement follows those of Britain’s Bradley Wiggins (Sky), considered the pre-race favorite, and Canada’s defending champion Ryder Hesjedal (Garmin-Sharp). Both pulled out due to illness last week.
The race ends Sunday in Brescia, but is set for a chaotic finish. Friday’s 19th stage was canceled due to freezing temperatures in the Dolomites and major changes also had to be made to Saturday’s 20th stage for the same reason.
Gesink’s best finish in a grand tour was fifth at the Tour de France in 2010.