Purito, one of the pre-race favourites, is one of three Katusha riders forced to abandon the race, with Angel Vicioso and Giampaolo Caruso both leaving yesterday’s stage in an ambulance.
Rodriguez completed the stage, but was seen to be visibly struggling on the climb of Montecassino and a hospital scan later revealed fractures.
Having made the race his prime target for the year, Rodriguez – who confessed he had still not overcome the double rib fracture he suffered at the Amstel Gold Race – admitted he was bitterly disappointed to withdraw.
“It hurts to leave the Giro, but there is no other option,” he said. “The crashes were bad for all of us. The road was very slippery and we were going 60K an hour.
“Just touching your brakes was enough to crash. But that is a risk we always take. It is part of our job to try to be in the front to fight for the victory.
“I really cannot blame the organization or the local roads. After the crash I got back on my bike immediately, more full of aggression and determination, but after a while I clearly felt what the problem was, as I could not breath anymore.”
For Caruso, it was his second crash of the race so far having fallen in the feed zone on stage two – suffering a scaphoid fracture.
There was real concern about his injuries and criticism raised at the length of time it took for an ambulance to reach the stricken Italian.
However, scans have revealed he has not suffered any additional fractures despite deep abrasions on his leg.
He said: “This is a black day for us all. Fortunately I have no extra fractures besides my scaphoid fracture from my Belfast crash.
“I flew 20 meters and came to standstill against a traffic island. I cannot move my left leg anymore. It is swollen because of big contusions.”
Vicioso’s injuries were the worst of the three, the Spaniard suffering a three-fold complex right femur fracture for which he will be transported to Rome for an operation.
The crashes occurred after a strong team effort on the Viggiano on stage five, which had raised hopes Rodriguez could claw back the time lost in the team time trial.
And Rodriguez admitted the strength they showed on stage five, made the circumstances of the following day all the more disappointing.
He added: “There is no other option than to stop. After the Amstel I suffered so much and I worked so hard to arrive in top condition at the Giro. It was already a hard task to do it after my earlier rib fractures.
“The start of the Giro was not so good for me. I suffered a lot in the team time trial. It was my first effort after Liège. [On stage five] I felt that everything went better.
“I am so disappointed now, especially after our team performance to Viggiano. All our nine riders were so ready for this race.”
Davide Villella (Cannondale) and Janez Brajkovic (Astana) also abandoned yesterday’s stage following the crash.