Fernando Gaviria (UAE Team Emirates) has abandoned the Giro d'Italia just over one hour into stage 7 of the race following several days of pain in his left knee. The Colombian sprinter won stage 3 after Deceuninck-QuickStep sprinter Elia Viviani was relegated following an irregular sprint.
"I was struggling from the start today and my left knee has been already been hurting for some days. I tried to hang on but I could barely push the pedals," said Gaviria. "It's a pity because we were doing okay in the sprints and were ready to have another crack.
"The knee pain has complicated things. I'll rest now, take care of the knee pain and come back and build towards the next big goals."
UAE Team Emirates teammate Valerio Conti currently leads the race after finishing second from the breakaway in stage 6.
The abandon was announced just after an hour of racing from the stage start in Vasto, where the average speed was sitting over 50km/h as a break struggled to form. Gaviria, who won four stages and the ciclamino points jersey in 2017, and was sitting second in the competition this year, 28 points behind the competition leader Pascal Ackermann (Bora-Hansgrohe). In fact, the 2017 Giro d'Italia is Gaviria's only Grand Tour finish, after he left last year's Tour de France when the race reached the mountains.
Gaviria leaves the race with one race victory in his back pocket, plus a second and fourth place in the other two sprint finishes. The Colombian was handed the win on stage 3 after his former teammate Elia Viviani (Deceuninck-QuickStep) was relegated for moving across the path of Matteo Moschetti (Trek-Segafredo) in the sprint.
Gaviria is the second rider from UAE Team Emirates to leave the race in the opening week after the team decided to suspend Juan Sebastian Molano following some 'unusual physiological results' in one of the team's internal tests. That leaves just five riders to help Conti to look after the maglia rosa, who was forced to try and chase down some of the early attacks on stage 7.