Team Sunweb have confirmed that Lennard Kämna did not start stage 17 of the Vuelta a Espana due to a knee problem and so that he can focus on the upcoming world team time trial championships in Bergen, Norway.
The 20-year-old Kämna finished 8th in the 40.2km time trial but led the race for much of the day. He finished just 31 seconds slower than Alberto Contador and Ilnur Zakarin.
Despite team leader Wilco Kelderman fighting for a podium spot, Team Sunweb decided it was better for the young German to head home rather than push on in a final week packed with mountain stages. Team Sunweb is down to just five riders after sending Warren Barguil home and being hit by a virus.
"Lennard has started to experience some pain in his right knee and if he continues with these symptoms there is a likelihood that these problems will worsen. After yesterday's time trial he experienced some irritation in the knee so the best decision is for Lennard to take some rest for a fast recovery and to avoid possible long-term symptoms, which could impact on his goals for the remainder of the season and beyond," team doctor Mannes Naeff explained in a statement.
Kämna was riding his first Grand Tour in his first season as a professional. He was the 2016 European under-23 time trial champion and finished fourth in the under-23 time time trial at the World Championships in Qatar. He was world junior time trial champion in 2014.
"It's really disappointing to have to end my first Grand Tour early. It's been a great experience so far where I feel that I have learnt a lot. I'm already looking forward to lining up on the start line at my next Grand Tour with the team," Kämna said.
Kämna helped Team Sunweb finish third in the opening team time trial of the Vuelta and is expected to be part of Team Sunweb's squad for the team time trial at the World Championships.
"It's unfortunate that we have to withdraw Lennard from the race. He's a young guy and so far he has had a great Grand Tour debut, where he has made the next step in his development. We want to avoid the knee injury getting worse and don't want to force it with the upcoming worlds team time trial," Team Sunweb coach Marc Reef said.