Sir Bradley Wiggins (Team Sky) will miss the chance to battle Tony Martin (Omega Pharma-Quickstep) and Fabian Cancellara (Trek Factory Racing) for time trial glory in Switzerland and being forced to abandon the Tour de Suisse through injury.
Wiggins crashed at the back of the peloton during stage four, which was eventually won by compatriot Mark Cavendish (Omega Pharma-Quickstep), and, already affected by illness, will now return home.
It means the Olympic champion will not be on the start line for Friday’s time trial, which had been his prime target for the race, and will instead prepare for the British National Championships and the Commonwealth Games at home.
The crash left him with bruising around his left thigh, and had seen him sheepishly get back on the bike and roll in more than 12 minutes after the peloton.
“Ironically, I was the last man in the peloton, trying to stay out of trouble when it happened,” Wiggins explained to the team website.
“They all slammed on the brakes ahead of me but there was another rider riding full gas who rode straight into the back of me.
“I’ve got quite a lot of swelling on the left-hand side of my right knee. It’s one of those things, I’ve been pretty fortunate this year with crashes.
“I probably could have started today but it’s best to play it safe and come home now. I really want to try to be ready for the Nationals next Thursday so I didn’t want to jeopardise that for the sake of pushing on and potentially doing more damage.”
Wiggins was already off the pace overall after suffering an infection, meaning he had been unable to replicate the form which saw him win the Tour of California last month.
He added: “Friday’s time trial had been my main goal for the Tour de Suisse, but I’d never have been 100% for it.
“I’ve also been struggling with a chest infection this week, which affected my ride on stage one, and that put me back a bit so I wouldn’t have been able to perform at my best there anyway.
“The plan is to get home today, have 24 hours off the bike and then I’ll be good to go again and finalise my preparations for Wales next week.”
Team Sky’s hopes of GC success in Switzerland now rest on Pete Kennaugh and the returning Segio Henao, both of whom are looking to seal Tour de France selection.
Ahead of stage five, Kennaugh sits 11th overall, 29 seconds behind race leader Martin, while Henao – third on stage three – is a further seven seconds back in 15th.
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