Double stage winner Marcel Kittel (Giant-Shimano) will play no further part in the Giro d’Italia after withdrawing ahead of stage four with a fever.
Kittel’s remarkable effort to overhaul Ben Swift (Team Sky) to win stage three in Dublin saw the 26-year-old collapse on the road after crossing the finish line.
And team officials have withdrawn Kittel from the race after his condition, which had initially improved on the rest day, deteriorated ahead of stage four.
Coach Marc Reef said: “Two days ago, after the third stage he already indicated that he did not feel 100 per cent.
“Yesterday morning he said that he felt better, but this morning at breakfast he had the same complaints and after a few check-ups with our team physician we saw that the fever had deteriorated and so we made the decision together that he should not continue.”
Luka Mezgec will now take over as the team’s lead sprinter as Giant-Shimano look to continue their impressive start to the race.
Reef added: “It is a hard decision and a big loss for the team and a pity for Marcel. But we have to move on and with Luka we have another strong sprinter on board.
“We will rebuild our positioning in the sprint train and keep challenging with Luka on the flats now.”
Kittel’s, whose participation in the entire race was already in doubt with the Tour de France his chief priority this season, had been in the red jersey after his two victories, and Team Sky’s Swift will now assume the maglia rosso.
Kittel said: “I am very disappointed about leaving the Giro after such a strong start in good condition, but I do not feel healthy and I am not in the position to start the race in this condition.
“I want to thank my team for their support these past few days and wish them the best of luck for the rest of the race.”