Rohan Dennis, one of the BMC Racing Team's lead riders in the 100th Giro d'Italia, was forced to abandon the race on stage 4, but it was not due to the road rash he suffered in his crash two days earlier. The Australian was suffering headaches, nausea and fatigue that kept him from being able to keep pace on the Portella Fammina Morta.
BMC team physician Dr Giovanni Ruffini, on the day of the crash, said the sore neck and headache was "nothing the team's physiotherapist can't fix", but after today's stage, he re-evaluated his assessment in a press release.
"After the crash on Sunday, Rohan had a strong headache but yesterday, it seemed that everything was mostly resolved," Ruffini said. "Last night, he began to experience further headaches and started to feel nauseous. Unfortunately, this morning the feelings hadn't subsided but we made the decision for Rohan to try and make it through today's stage.
"Rohan continued to feel unwell during the stage and consequently made the decision to withdraw."
After a discussion with chief medical officer Dr Max Testa, Dennis will undergo tests to see if there is an underlying injury causing his symptoms.
"At this stage, Rohan will take some time off the bike to recover and depending on the result of the tests, he could be back training in ten days," Ruffini said.
Dennis was moulding himself into a genuine Grand Tour contender after finishing second overall in Tirreno-Adriatico. He won a stage of the Tour of the Alps last month and was to race as co-leader alongside Tejay van Garderen with the aim of developing his Grand Tour chops.
That all came unravelled en route to Mount Etna.
"I basically just tried to stay positive and think maybe I'll come good," Dennis said. "It was probably around the hour mark when I spoke to Max Sciandri in the car and I said 'Look I'm going to try and get to the feed zone and I think that might be my limit today but we'll see how it goes there.' But I got dropped on the long climb when the peloton was riding easy and Valerio Piva in the second race car just said, 'Get in the car, it's not worth it.'
"I'm disappointed, of course. I think I feel worse for the people who have helped me prepare. My coach came all the way from America to spend a week with me away from his family before the Tour of the Alps, to prepare for the Giro d'Italia. Those sort of things I feel bad about, even if I didn't have any control of it. When you abandon you have the feeling it was for nothing. My priority now is to recover and get healthy, and then concentrate on the rest of the season which is far from over."