The 36-year-old Wilier Triestina rider arrived in Israel on Tuesday and completed the pre-race UCI Medical checks on Wednesday morning, but then took the first available flight to Italy. His father had been in hospital for several days but his condition has reportedly worsened.
The 101st edition of the Giro d'Italia was expected to be the last of Pozzato's long career before retiring later this season or during 2019. Pozzato has ridden 16 Grand Tours and seven editions of the Giro d'Italia, winning a stage to Porto Recanati in 2010.
Pozzato was expected to be road captain of the Wilier Triestina team and help lead out sprinter Jakub Mareczko. The Italian Professional Continental team have called up Alex Turrin to replace Pozzato. The 25-year-old finished ninth at the recent Giro dell’Appennino and ride the Tour of the Alps.
Each of the 22 teams in this year's Giro d'Italia have squads of eight riders after the UCI reduced the size of the peloton citing reasons of safety. There will be 176 riders named on the final start list on Thursday morning.
The 2018 Giro d'Italia runs from Friday, May 4 to Sunday, May 27, with three stages taking place in Israel as part of the Grande Partenza before the first of three rest days and a transfer to Sicily on Monday.