World champion Rui Costa (Lampre-Merida) has abandoned the Tour de France with pneumonia.
The Portuguese rider, a double stage winner last year, had already received antibiotic treatment for bronchitis as he looked to reignite his bid for a top-ten place.
But after waking up fatigued on Monday’s rest day, an x-ray examination has revealed an outbreak of pneumonia and forced the three-time Tour de Suisse champion to join the list of high-profile casualties at this year’s Tour.
“Rui Costa was very willing to continue and respect the Tour, therefore he wanted to get through the night in order to assess his condition in the morning,” read a team statement.
“But the persistent state of not feeling well and the risk of forfeiting the rest of the season has convinced the world champion to retire from the race.”
Costa, who was placed 13th overall after 15 stages, joins the likes of Alberto Contador (Tinkoff-Saxo) and Chris Froome (Team Sky) in being forced to withdraw early from this year’s race.
Costa’s withdrawal means the Italian team will start stage 16 with just five riders – 2013 Vuelta a Espana winner Chris Horner, Davide Cimolai, Kristijan Durasek, Portuguese national champion Nelson Oliveira and Jose Serpa.