Bradley Wiggins has expressed his disappointment at having to abandon the Giro d’Italia but has vowed to return to full fitness in time for the Tour de France.
The Team Sky leader withdrew from the Giro ahead of stage 13 on medical grounds having been diagnosed with a chest infection.
Wiggins, who was bidding to become the first Briton to win the race, had slipped to 13th overall after a nightmare first half to the race which saw the 33-year-old struggle to cope with the poor weather conditions before falling ill.
“I’m disappointed, but some things you can’t control,” said Wiggins, who lost more than three minutes on stage 12 after being dropped from the peloton. “It’s really disappointing to stop in this way because we came for so much more.
“It’s hard to be part of the Giro just to be a number because everybody expected so much. There are a lot of riders in the peloton at the moment that are sick, but as the winner of the Tour, you can’t hide away and get over it.
“It was hard being in that position, because I am not used to it. I am not used to being dropped on the flat from a grupetto. That’s a sign that something is not right.”
Wiggins, who has returned to the UK for treatment, has reportedly been named as a reserve in Team Sky’s squad for the Critérium du Dauphiné on June 2-9, or could otherwise ride the Tour de Suisse on June 8-16.
Ahead of the Giro, Wiggins had stated his ambition to win both the Italian Grand Tour and a second Tour de France title in 2013 but, having been forced to forfeit his first goal, now also faces the prospect of riding as a domestique for Chris Froome in July.
Team Sky chief Dave Brailsford re-affirmed Froome’s position as the team’s proposed team leader following Wiggins’ comments but hinted the final “evidence-based” decision will be made on the basis of both riders’ form going into the race.
Wiggins will now concentrate on recovering from the infection which ended his Giro d’Italia and revealed the decision to quit the race was partly motivated by ambition to be at “full strength” for the Tour, which starts less than five weeks after the Giro, whether it be as a super-domestique for Froome, or with ambitions of his own.
Wiggins added: “The decision [to withdraw from the Giro] was made with a view to being back to full strength for the Tour.
“I think had we continued in this Giro, the risk was that I did more damage long-term, so I think the team have taken the decision to put a stop to it now and start thinking about getting back to full strength for the Tour.”