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Bookwalter forced to abandon Giro, Yates plugs on

American rider withdraws from Giro d'Italia for health reasons. His departure leaves a hole in Simon Yates' Mitchelton-Scott team

PONTE DI LEGNO, Italy (VN) — Brent Bookwalter (Mitchelton-Scott) was forced to leave the Giro d’Italia due to health problems as Simon Yates survived another day.

The veteran American wrote on his Instagram account that he was “extremely disappointed” to not start Tuesday’s 16th stage with his new Mitchelton-Scott teammates.

Sport director Matt White said it was for undisclosed health reasons. Bookwalter finished Sunday’s stage in Como in one of the last groups.

“It’s a real shame for Brent because he’s worked so hard to get ready for this race,” White said. “When it’s your big goal in the first part of the season, it’s obviously devastating for him. He didn’t want to leave, but the best thing for him was to not start today.”

White did not reveal what was ailing Bookwalter, but said it was more prudent for the American not to start Tuesday’s grueling stage over the Mortirolo climb.

“Under advice from our medical team he did not start,” White said. “It’s never good to be down one man, but we’ve gotten this far with a full team. Not that many teams finish the Giro with a full roster anyway. We knew what it would be like today.”

Bookwalter, 35, started the 2019 Giro for the Australian outfit with enthusiasm. After racing all of his professional career at BMC Racing, Bookwalter made the move to Mitchelton-Scott with the idea of bringing his experience and depth to help in the grand tours.

“He’s a great asset. He brings a lot of experience,” Yates said. “That experience really shows straight away. He knows what he needs to do.”

Yates, meanwhile, pushed on Tuesday in the decisive stage over the Mortirolo.

While the team was hopeful Yates would be able to rebound following a rough start in this Giro, the Vuelta a España champion was unable to follow the decisive attack from Vincenzo Nibali (Bahrain-Merida). Instead, Yates paced in with a chasing group including Primoz Roglic (Jumbo-Visma) and Bauke Mollema (Trek-Segafredo) at 1:22 to the leading GC group.

“We took time on some guys. He wasn’t with the top-3 guys, but he finished with Roglic and with Mollema,” White said. “It’s a solid day. Our goal is to keep chipping away. There are a lot of hard days to go and it’s going in a good direction.”

White said he wasn’t surprised to see the isolated Roglic succumb to attacks from Bahrain-Merida, Movistar and Astana.

With two moderate mountain stages and a possible sprint stage on tap before Saturday’s next major mountain stage, White said the Giro will still produce surprises.

“Nibali has to keep attacking if he wants to win the Giro,” They’re not the big epic stages [Wednesday, Friday] like today or Saturday, but it doesn’t matter,” he said. “If you have bad legs, you get caught between groups, and you will see time gaps. Every day is going to be like a juggle. The difference between a good day and a bad day in the Giro can be a minute, two minutes. That’s the beauty and difficulty of the Giro.”