The Tour de France winner had said he was looking forward to the weekend of hilly racing in Italy when he commented on Team Sky potentially being sponsored by Ineos in 2020. He seemed relaxed at the start in Foligno, but the stage started fast on the ride to Fossombrone thanks to a tailwind, with an average speed of 45.700km/h for the first two hours of racing.
Thomas eased up on a short steep climb in the Le Marche hills, stopped at the side of the road and then climbed into the front seat of a Team Sky race car. Team Sky confirmed that he had been struggling with stomach issues.
"I’ve been struggling with stomach issues for a couple of days now. I wanted to start this morning but I knew as soon as we hit the first climb that I wasn’t right," Thomas said.
"I could have battled through but it wouldn’t have done me any favours. We agreed on the road that it was better I stop and rest up. I’ll head home, have a couple of easy days, and then get back into training early next week."
Team Sky finished fifth in the opening team time trial and Thomas was 52nd on stage 2 to Pomerance, losing 1:23 to race leader Adam Yates (Mitchelton-Scott). He finished in the peloton on stage 3 to Foligno on Friday.
Thomas made his season debut at the Volta a la Comunitat Valenciana and then completed a training camp at altitude at Mount Teide as he worked to get back to his racing weight and find some early-season form after celebrating his Tour de France victory in the final months of 2018. He planned to return to the volcano after Tirreno-Adriatico and then ride the Itzulia Basque Country and the Tour de Romandie. Despite some pressure to ride the Giro d’Italia, Thomas has confirmed he will again target the Tour de France to try to win a rare second consecutive yellow jersey.
On Friday Thomas responded positively to reports that Team Sky will become Team Ineos in 2020. He has a contract with the British team until 2021.
"You'd hope to think that we'd find something. We are in the best position to; we are one of the best sports teams around, let alone in cycling, so you'd hope we could find something," Thomas said of the news regarding Team Sky's prospective new sponsor. "I heard there was a lot of interest, but it's like when we're trying to sign a contract there's always interest but it's who ever puts the bloody contract in front of you, isn't it? I don't know, hopefully, but I'm just concentrating on this race and we'll let Dave and all of them sort that out.
"For sure, if it’s sorted sooner, then everyone is a bit more at ease. As far as I know, its not completely done, so I don’t want to tempt fate.