Gaviria abandons Tour Colombia due to illness

Fernando Gaviria (UAE Team Emirates) did not start stage 3 at the Tour Colombia 2.1 on Thursday due to a respiratory infection that has continued to worsen since the race started Tuesday in Medellin.

The Colombian sprinter abandoned the race today after getting dropped from his squad during the opening team time trial and then suffering during Wednesday's sprint stage, eventually losing 1:16 to the field after the team switched gears late and supported Sebastian Molano in the sprint.

"As you know, yesterday during the race he didn't have good feelings due to a respiratory infection, and the night was not as good as we had hoped for him," said team spokesman Andrea Appiani. "And so, together with the technical staff and the medical staff and the rider, it has been decided not to start today."

Gaviria won three stages last year at Colombia Oro y Paz and wore the leader’s jersey for three days before the climbers took over. Dropping out of his home tour is obviously a huge disappointment for the 24-year-old.

"Of course, it is a pity for Fernando because it is his home race," Appiani. "He was not feeling at the level he hoped to, and so it's no good to go on and it's better to rest and recover from this infection. He'll go back to training to be at the same level he wants to be, especially because the season is long and there are many other important races. Of course, this was an important one for Gaviria, but sometimes things are not as you expect."

Appiani said Gaviria will be in the team car today and will await the finish of stage 3 and his teammates.

"He hopes to celebrate the result of Molano, because as we saw yesterday, Sebastian has been very competitive, so the team had a good second option," Appiani said.

Gaviria came into his home tour with a confidence boost from taking two stage wins at the Vuelta a San Juan in Argentina last month, and he was hoping to keep the momentum rolling in Colombia, which opened with a team time trial and three likely sprint stages before the mountains shake things up. Appiani said Gaviria’s immediately plans for the coming days have not yet been decided.

"Together with the medical staff, Fernando will plan to go home or stay in the auto with the team," he said. "He had a very good start to the season and it was good for his morale. That's why he wanted to race with a high morale and the best intention to be on the top level."

In a statement provided by the team, Gaviria said he was sorry to leave the race, but he had to think of his health for the long term.

“I’m not able to ride at my best, so I think the best decision is to stop myself now," Gaviria said. "Thanks to everyone, all the fans who’ve always supported me, and who I know are also supporting me in this moment.”

The Tour Colombia 2.1 continues today with a 167.6km loop around Llanogrande.

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