"Before the Giro I said that I always want to finish a race, especially the Giro d'Italia, but not at all costs," said Degenkolb.
"It was the goal of my team and myself to start this race in top form, and we succeeded in doing so. After a very long and intensive block of racing from the beginning of February onward, I feel that it's getting really hard to recover. The first week in this Giro turned out to be very challenging and we also faced difficult weather conditions. This has had an impact on my body, and I am simply not fit anymore."
Although disappointed to withdraw from this year's Giro, Degenkolb is optimistic about future editions.
"I have to admit I am still very young, and I know that I will get stronger every year, so I have to swallow my pride and do what's best for my body. Together with the team we have decided that I will travel home to recover first and then start working toward the next goals. I'm proud to leave this beautiful race with a stage win. I will come back here."
"Our tactic remains the same," said sports manager Addy Engels. "With Luka Mezgec, we have another strong finisher on board, and we will keep racing offensively - like we did yesterday, with young Tobias Ludvigsson riding a brilliant race and finishing fourth among the best riders, and also in the long and hard time trial, with Patrick Gretsch coming in 13th."
"I hope the remaining seven riders - Cheng Ji left the race after an illness - are able to make it to the end and develop themselves during these three weeks to grow into better and stronger riders."
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