Marcel Kittel (Etixx-Quickstep), winner of two stages and the second maglia rosa of the Giro d'Italia, will take his leave from the Italian Grand Tour to recover for the rest of the season before the stage 9 time trial, the team announced on Saturday.
"I'm sad to leave the Giro. I really like the atmosphere I have found here in Italy and I love the support of the Italian fans, but now I feel like I need to recover after a long first part of the season," Kittel stated. "This year I kicked-off my campaign very early in order to come back after a very difficult 2015 and the season will be even longer than usual for me because of the Worlds in Qatar. It's not every year that the sprinters get such an opportunity.
"Considering from where I came it's very important for me to pay attention to my fitness level. The Giro has been a tough and demanding race so far, even in the stages book marked for the sprinters. Now I feel that I need to rest before the future goals of the season," he added.
Kittel thanked the team and staff, and made a promise to the race organisers: "I want to assure them that in the future I will come back at the start with the goal of trying to get a victory on Italian soil, something which I'm still missing."
Viviani, Van Poppel, Filosi miss the time cut
Three riders missed out on the time cut on stage 8 of the Giro d'Italia after losing contact early on during the stage. Team Sky lost Elia Viviani, Iuri Filosi (Nippo-Vini Fantini), and Boy Van Poppel (Trek-Segafredo) finished together 55:26 down on stage winner Gianluca Brambilla.
Trek-Segafredo directeur sportif Dirk Demol said Van Poppel had been sick.
"I feel badly for Boy because he was fighting hard and the last thing he wanted was to stop today," said Demol. "He was already sick for a few days and suffering from allergies as well. He was one of the first guys dropped when it went uphill, and today he could not manage to come back. He refused to abandon during the stage, but it was clear when the race started so fast from the start that he did not have any chance. He's really disappointed and sad about going home, but he tried as hard as he could."
Venter pleased with fourth on the stage, Montaguti disappointed with second
South African champion Jaco Venter made his mark on the Giro d'Italia by making the successful stage 8 breakaway. The Dimension Data rider was unable to go with eventual stage winner Gianluca Brambilla (Etixx-Quickstep), but held off the chase from the group of race favourites to finish fourth on the stage, 1:28 behind.
"I am super happy about today, it was a hard start. There was storm at the start and I wasn't planning on going in the break, I was just riding in front to stay safe. I saw some groups going on the downhill and I just followed the wheels and then I was in the group," Venter said.
"It was hard because there was a group that contained Nibali just behind us so we had to push for the first hour. We got a gap and worked well, some guys were taking some chances but we rode well. I knew the climb as we rode it in recon a few weeks ago but I wasn't expecting to stay away. I wasn't feeling too good at the start of the climb but as it went on I felt better. Over the top I was in 5th or 6th, with a small group. On the descent I did some crazy Moto GP riding and was able to race for 3rd place from a group, and I ended 2nd from that group and 4th on the stage which I am really happy about."
Venter finished just behind Moreno Moser (Cannondale), while Matteo Montaguti (AG2R La Mondiale) finished second on the stage at 1:06 from Brambilla.
Montaguti was the first attacker on the unpaved ascent of Alpe di Poti, but couldn't go with the Etixx rider when he went past.
"I regret that I didn't have enough power to follow Brambilla and I regret it. If I did it he could take the Jersey and I could win the stage," Montaguti said. "I am a little bit disappointed but we achieved a great team performance. Blel Kadri did an amazing job. Domenico [Pozzovivi] proved he is In top shape. We are all motivated and really to try it again."
Birthday party for Tossato
The oldest rider in the Giro d'Italia gained another year today: Matteo Tossato (Tinkoff) celebrated his birthday after stage 8 with the satisfaction of protecting team leader Rafal Majka, who moved into 8th overall in the general classification.
"It was a tough stage with a high pace right from the start. It rained in the first climb and descend and that made it tricky. We managed to keep Rafal safe and in the front and that was important. I see he's in good shape and is moving in the GC. However, we will take it a day at a time," Tossato said.
"Today was, obviously, a very important day for me because I turned 42. I'm not at my optimal form because of the cold I have and my fall. Tomorrow, I will have to be careful and I'm confident I will be able to give my best after the rest day."
Other riders who celebrate their birthdays during the Giro d'Italia:
Svein Tuft (Can) Orica-GreenEdge - Rest Day 1
Tim Wellens (Bel) Lotto Soudal - Stage 4
Adam Hansen (Aus) Lotto Soudal - Stage 5
Marcel Kittel (Ger) Etixx - Quick-Step - Stage 5
Joe Dombrowski (USA) Cannondale Pro Cycling - Stage 6
David Lopez Garcia (Spa) Team Sky - Stage 7
Matteo Tosatto (Ita) Tinkoff Team - Stage 8
Tom Stamsnijder (Ned) Team Giant-Alpecin - Stage 9
Sonny Colbrelli (Ita) Bardiani CSF - Stage 10
Alessandro De Marchi (Ita) BMC Racing Team - Stage 12
Evgeny Petrov (Rus) Tinkoff Team - Stage 17
Mikel Nieve (Spa) Team Sky - Stage 18