(Reuters) - Team Sky’s Giro d’Italia curse continued when Geraint Thomas was forced to withdraw on Friday having failed to recover from injuries sustained in a crash during Sunday’s ninth stage.
The Briton, who still managed to finish second in Tuesday’s time trial, was one of several riders, including his Sky co-leader Mikel Landa, who was brought down when a police motorbike parked by the side of the road forced the peloton to swerve.
“I’ve been suffering since my crash on Sunday,” Thomas said in a statement. “I’ve had an issue with my shoulder which is manageable, but my knee has also been getting worse each day.
“Obviously it’s never nice to leave a race early, especially when it’s your main goal of the season, but I have to look at the bigger picture.
“I’ll turn my attention to the Tour de France now, and I want to arrive there with the same good form I started the Giro with.”
Team Sky have never won the Giro despite dominating the Tour de France in recent years and had clearly targeted the race this year with Thomas and Spaniard Landa being given a joint leadership role.
After Thursday’s stage Thomas had trailed race leader Tom Dumoulin by six minutes 46 seconds with Landa 42 minutes down.
Last year Landa was strongly-tipped to challenge for overall victory but withdrew after being diagnosed with viral gastroenteritis on stage 10.
“It’s desperately sad for Geraint. He has worked hard to arrive here in such great condition and we were looking forward to seeing him compete,” Sky manager Dave Brailsford said.
“As far as the team goes, the GC has gone but there is still plenty to fight for and the opportunity is there for our riders to achieve a stage win in the 100th Giro”.
Reporting by Hardik Vyas in Bengaluru; Editing by Peter Rutherford/Amlan Chakraborty