White jersey holder Cian Uijtdebroeks forced out of Giro d'Italia through illness

'It is a huge setback for us,' says Visma-Lease a Bike sports director Marc Reef, as the fifth-placed Uijtdebroeks leaves the race ahead of stage 11

Clock09:56, Wednesday 15th May 2024
Cian Uijtdebroeks struggled in the final kilometres of stage 10, losing ground on his rivals before ultimately leaving the race

© Getty Images

Cian Uijtdebroeks struggled in the final kilometres of stage 10, losing ground on his rivals before ultimately leaving the race

An ill-fated year for Visma-Lease a Bike has continued to go from bad to worse at the Giro d'Italia, with team leader Cian Uijtdebroeks forced out of the race ahead of stage 11 with illness.

The Belgian was riding high in fifth place overall and wearing the white young rider's jersey, but will now go down as a DNS on stage 11.

Uijtdebroeks' withdrawal now moves Bahrain Victorious' Antonio Tiberi up one place into fifth and hands the Italian the young rider's jersey, whilst Ineos Grenadiers' Thymen Arensman now rounds out the top 10 heading into Wednesday's stage.

Read more: Giro d'Italia: ‘The team kept believing in me, it paid off, I’m back’ says resurgent Thymen Arensman

"The Giro will have to continue without the biggest smile of the peloton 😔," Visma-Lease a Bike wrote on social media. "We regret to announce that Cian Uijtdebroeks is forced to abandon the race. Cian did not feel well the past days and after yesterday’s stage, he fell ill. We wish you a speedy recovery 🫶🏼."

The Belgian's withdrawal is the latest in a series of setbacks for the Dutch team at this year's Giro, with Robert Gesink, Christophe Laporte and stage 9 winner Olav Kooij all forced to withdraw from the race prior to Uijtdebroeks. Without the latter, the team has no hopes in the general classification, whilst the departures of Laporte and Kooij have left them with no opportunity in bunch sprints.

Their ambitions will now likely be solely tilted towards breakaways, a tactic they had already put into action on Tuesday, when Jan Tratnik made himself part of the day's break and struck out for the finish with 40km still to ride. It wasn't to be for the Visma-Lease a Bike hopeful, who was caught a little over 2km from the summit of Bocca della Selva, but his aggression will have to be the game plan for the team going forward.

"This morning we came to the decision to take Cian out of the race and we are extremely disappointed that we needed to take him out, especially after we had to take out Olav yesterday," Visma-Lease a Bike sports director Marc Reef said in a video published by the team. "We were thinking that especially after the victory of Olav three days ago, that we had everything to play for. This moment just days later, we are now in the situation where both of the guys who we had big goals with, who we could fight for, they are both out. It is a huge setback also for the team."

As was to be expected, Reef was in low spirits following the loss of another team leader. This is night and day from last year's race, which saw then-team leader Primož Roglič win the overall title.

After a great start to the Giro d'Italia, which saw Uijtdebroeks one of the strongest riders on the stage 2 summit finish to Santuario di Oropa, the 21-year-old's struggles began to show themselves in the final kilometres of stage 10 on Tuesday. As his white jersey rival Antonio Tiberi began to pile the pressure on the front of the peloton through teammate Damiano Caruso, Uijtdebroeks hovered off the back of the pack.

His misery was compounded by the aggression of Decathlon AG2R La Mondiale under the flamme rouge, as Ben O'Connor turned around, saw weakness and rode hard until the line. By the finish, Uijtdebroeks had lost 13 seconds to O'Connor, Dani Martínez (Bora-Hansgrohe), Einer Rubio (Movistar), Geraint Thomas (Ineos Grenadiers) and Tadej Pogačar (UAE Team Emirates), and nine seconds to a group containing white jersey hopefuls Tiberi and Alex Baudin (Decathlon AG2R La Mondiale).

Read more: ‘I am not a guy who just sits in the wheels’ - Cian Uijtdebroeks surprises himself with Giro d’Italia form

Uijtdebroeks' withdrawal from the race will force Visma-Lease a Bike to reconsider their goals with the four riders that remain in the race: Tratnik, Edoardo Affini, Attila Valter and Tim van Dijke.

"We came here, we prepared ourselves for months and that we now come into this situation, it is a huge setback," Reef continued. "But still with 11 days to come, with four guys that are healthy, that are ready to go for it, they also prepared themselves for weeks, for months to fight for our goals in this race.

"We still have the goal to fight for stage wins. I think you saw yesterday with Jan what we can do after a setback and what we can do also after the setbacks we had, and we are still really there to fight for our chances that are still coming up."

With a day destined for the sprinters on stage 11, the next chance for Visma-Lease a Bike to leave their sting on the Giro d'Italia will likely be on Thursday's stage 12, which offers a chance for the breakaway over a series of medium-mountains.

For everything you need to know about the 2024 Giro d'Italia, from the history of the race to this year's route and start list, be sure to check out our dedicated race hub.

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