Marcel Kittel (Giant-Shimano), who won two of the first three stages at the Giro d’Italia, withdrew from the race prior to Tuesday’s stage 4 because of a fever.
“So, the Giro got me earlier than I thought,” Kittel Tweeted. “Absolutely disappointed that I have to leave this beautiful race today because of a fever.”
In a team release, Giant said Kittel was not feeling well after Sunday’s third stage that ended in Dublin, a stage he won. Kittel reportedly felt better Monday morning when the race transferred to Italy, but his health took a step in the wrong direction Tuesday morning before the start of stage 4 in Giovinazzo.
Kittel was checked out by the team’s medical staff Tuesday morning and it was decided he would be taken out of the race.
“It is a hard decision and a big loss for the team and a pity for Marcel,” sport director Marc Reef said in the release. “But we have to move on and with Luka [Mezgec] we have another strong sprinter on board. We will rebuild our positioning in the sprint train and keep challenging with Luka on the flats now.”
Added Kittel: “I am very disappointed about leaving the Giro after such a strong start in good condition, but I do not feel healthy and I am not in the position to start the race in this condition. I want to thank my team for their support these past few days and wish them the best of luck for the rest of the race.”
Later, Kittel Tweeted: “Thank you to everyone, incl. my team, the organisers & all the fans next to the road, for your great support! It was short but intensive!”