MANTES-LA-JOLIE, France — Tejay van Garderen (BMC Racing) abandoned Paris-Nice on Sunday’s first stage.
The 25-year-old, fourth here last year and fifth in the 2012 Tour de France, pulled out after 71km of the 162.5km stage.
Van Garderen — who will be BMC’s leader for this year’s Tour as Cadel Evans focuses on the Giro d’Italia — had come into the race on the back of a fine runner-up finish behind reigning Tour champion Chris Froome (Sky) in the Tour of Oman.
The race had already seen the withdrawal of defending champion Richie Porte, who switched to the Tirreno-Adriatico race when teammate Froome pulled out with a back injury.
Van Garderen said he may have picked up a stomach bug on his flight from Nice to Paris on Friday.
“At night, I had all these stomach cramps, and bad diarrhea all day yesterday and then a little bit of a fever and no appetite,” he said. “It felt like my sickness was getting better and today, I woke up and I felt okay. But I was really just empty. I couldn’t take in calories and just had nothing in the muscles.”
BMC’s chief medical officer, Dr. Max Testa, said Van Garderen was motivated to compete, but added: “You can’t race without fuel. I think the combination of dehydration and low glycogen in his muscles forced him to stop. Hopefully, he will recover in a couple days.”
Van Garderen is scheduled to race the Volta Ciclista a Catalunya March 24-30 in Spain, but the team said his racing program may be adjusted to compensate for the lost days of competition.