Lotto Soudal’s Tim Wellens has left the Giro d’Italia ahead of stage 14. The Belgian, who won stage 4 of the race, has shown signs of illness and the early stages of bronchitis in the last few days. According to his team, the 27-year-old was suffering from a fever after Friday’s stage 13. Stage 14 will finish up the punishing climb of the Monte Zoncolan.
“It’s never fun to abandon a Grand Tour,” Wellens said in a statement released by his team.
“Thanks to my stage win I can say my Giro has been a success, but I would have loved to have aimed for a second victory. The past days I had a go, but I could not take enough advantage. Already after the move from Israel to Sicily I felt as if I couldn’t catch up on sleep, and that didn’t improve with the move to the mainland. You notice the tiredness in the peloton, and the battle among the GC riders has yet to really begin. I will take a few days' rest and hope to resume training afterwards.”
Wellens is due to race the Tour de Suisse in June, although the Tour de France is not on his current race programme. The Ruta del Sol winner will head home and reassess his race schedule for the next few months.
“Tim had a fever, which means it’s no option to let him continue racing,” said team doctor Steven Bex.
“These past few days his body's been fighting against laryngitis and bronchitis, which is a logical consequence of the tiredness. The Giro has been exhausting for all riders, because of the travelling, and the long transfers and stages, which ask the maximum of the riders every day. Those stages that were in theory easier ones also turned out to be tough. Tim is someone who wants to seize opportunities every day, and he isn’t cut out for hiding in the bunch. He now has to recover, and then he can focus on new goals.”