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FORMIGINE, Italy (VN) — Team Sky’s curse of the Giro d’Italia continues.
Mikel Landa, who bounced back into contention following a strong performance in Sunday’s time trial, pulled out of the race after struggling early in Tuesday’s hilly transition stage across Tuscany.
Team Sky confirmed that Landa came down with a stomach bug overnight, with Team Sky doctor Iñigo Sarriegui explaining: “Mikel woke up early this morning feeling unwell with abdominal pains. It appears as though he has a viral gastroenteritis. We will assess him at the team hotel and then determine the best course of treatment to ensure he recovers as quickly as possible.”
Team Sky principal Dave Brailsford said the team hoped in vain that Landa could pull through the stage, and vowed the team will continue fighting for something in this Giro.
“We are really disappointed for Mikel, who was riding well and looking forward to attacking in the mountains and animating the race,” Brailsford said. “However, we came here as a team and we’ll continue as a team. There is a long way still to go and, although our focus was on Mikel, there’s plenty of time for us to still make an impact at this Giro.”
Things were not looking good when Landa was dropped on the first of four rated climbs in the 219-kilometer 10th stage, getting gapped on the Cat. 3 Passo della Collina at the 37km mark. At 70km, Landa was already six minutes down on the main GC favorites.
Earlier, Sky coach Marco Pinotti posted a photo on Twitter, with two Sky teammates trying in vain to pace Landa back to the leaders: “It seems a difficult start for Landa.”
The Spanish climber looked to be on good form coming into the second half of the Giro after a slow start. After posting a strong time trial Sunday, he said in an interview during Monday’s rest day that he was “feeling good and ready to attack.”
Sky tapped Landa to lead its Giro effort following his breakout, third-place finish in 2015 that included two stage victories. His season debut was delayed due to illness, but he seemed ready for the Giro after winning the Giro del Trentino.
Landa’s exit marks another setback for Sky’s efforts in the Italian grand tour. Despite winning three editions of the Tour de France, the British team has not been able to equal that success in the Giro. Efforts by Bradley Wiggins in 2013 and Richie Porte in 2015 fizzled out early, but Rigoberto Urán did manage to reach second on the podium in 2013.