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John Degenkolb (Argos-Shimano), winner of the Giro d’Italia’s fifth stage, has abandoned the race, citing declining fitness after a tough opening week.
“Before the Giro I said that I always want to finish a race, especially the Giro d’Italia, but not at all costs,” Degenkolb said in a team press release on the race’s first rest day. “It was the goal of my team and myself to start this race in top form, and we succeeded in doing so. After a very long and intensive block of racing from the beginning of February onward, I feel that it’s getting really hard to recover. The first week in this Giro turned out to be very challenging and we also faced difficult weather conditions. This has had an impact on my body, and I am simply not fit anymore.
Degenkolb racked up his sixth career grand tour stage win on Wednesday when he took a chaotic sprint from a reduced peloton. The German said he would return home and rest before refocusing for the remainder of the season. He stopped short of mentioning specific races, but Degenkolb could make his Tour de France debut for Argos in less than two months’ time.
“I have to admit I am still very young, and I know that I will get stronger every year, so I have to swallow my pride and do what’s best for my body,” he said. “Together with the team we have decided that I will travel home to recover first and then start working toward the next goals. I’m proud to leave this beautiful race with a stage win. I will come back here.”