The German sprinter broke the news via Twitter and the Giant-Shimano team confirmed to Cyclingnews that a high temperature made it impossible for to continue.
“So, the Giro got me earlier then I thought. Absolutely disappointed that I have to leave this beautiful race today because of a fever,” The German sprinter 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! <3”
"We made the decision here before the start of the fourth stage that Marcel would not continue the race," coach Marc Reef said in a statement from the team.
"Two days ago, after the third stage he already indicated that he did not feel 100%. Yesterday morning he said that he felt better, but this morning at breakfast he had the same complaints and after a few check-ups with our team physician we saw that the fever had deteriorated and so we made the decision together that he should not continue."
"It is a hard decision and a big loss for the team and a pity for Marcel. 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."
Kittel spoke about his disappointment to leave the Giro d'Italia so early in the race.
"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," he said.
Kittel has been on strong form at the Giro d’Italia and was the winner of the opening two sprint stages. Kittel won in Dublin despite losing all his teammates in the technical finish, coming from behind to power past a bemused Ben Swift (Team Sky) and Elia Viviani (Cannondale. He was the favourite to make it three in Bari. The German rider was also the leader in the points classification.
His departure opens the door for the other sprinters in the peloton.