Sam Oomen was not at the start of the fifth stage of Itzulia Basque Country on Friday, with the team saying he was not well. It is another unwelcome addition to the Team Sunweb sick-and-injured list, leading to questions as to which teammates will be able to support Tom Dumoulin in the Giro d'Italia.
The team already lost Dumoulin's main lieutenant, Wilco Kelderman, to a fractured vertebra in his neck suffered in a crash in Catalunya. In addition, Martijn Tusveld, who was scheduled to make his debut, is out with a broken jaw.
Dumoulin expressed his desire to have Oomen's focus changed from the Tour de France to the Giro. "The only rider who comes up near Kelderman in terms of level is Sam Oomen," Dumoulin told AD.nl.
"But Sam is scheduled for the Tour and I don't know if the team will convert that. I also think that Sam is ready for the Tour. But the main goal of the team is the Giro and then it is a consideration."
It had also been speculated that Nicholas Roche might also now ride both the Tour and Giro, instead of just the former. However, he crashed out of Basque Country on the fourth stage. The team said that he had no serious injures but gave no further details.
However, in announcing Oomen's illness and abandon in Basque Country, the team opened the door for a possible Giro appearance. "With his upcoming goals in mind, one of which could indeed be the Giro, we've decided it best that he takes a period of rest to recharge the batteries and prepare for the next weeks," Sunweb coach Luke Roberts said.
Oomen repeated the thoughts, saying, "Taking the next period into account, we decided it's best for me to not start today so I can rest and prepare for what's coming up next. That could be the Giro, but we haven't yet made the final decision."
On NOS.nl, Dumoulin said that he had visited his friend and teammate Kelderman last week, "and he is walking around with a neck collar. Really sad to see. He really can't do anything at all.
"Martijn has been eating through a straw for weeks. That doesn't make you happy either.”
Dumoulin, who is planning to do the Giro-Tour double again this year, is currently on Tenerife for a final altitude training before the Giro. The team said that it expects to announce the Giro line-up shortly.