Battlefield after the rest day: Visma | Lease a Bike loses leader Kooij, other sprinters also sick and heading home Cycling

Battlefield after the rest day: Visma | Lease a Bike loses leader Kooij, other sprinters also sick and heading home

Battlefield after the rest day: Visma | Lease a Bike loses leader Kooij, other sprinters also sick and heading home

The rest day of the Giro d'Italia has caused quite a few casualties in the peloton. Before the start of the tenth stage, several teams shared bad news, notably all concerning their sprinters. The most significant announcement came from Olav Kooij, who fell ill on the rest day and is unable to continue representing Visma | Lease a Bike.

"This Giro is taking us on a roller coaster of emotions," the Dutch team headlined in a post on X. And that's certainly an understatement. Kooij claimed victory in stage nine but had to do so without his usual lead-out man, Christophe Laporte, who had to withdraw due to a crash. Additionally, road captain and mountain domestique Robert Gesink had already abandoned following a crash. Not to mention the team's other misfortunes this year, including the serious crashes of Wout van Aert and Jonas Vingegaard, the team's two main contenders.

Kooij didn't feel well during the rest day and woke up with a fever. It was then decided that he wouldn't start again. So the sprint sensation showcased his excellent form on Sunday, clinching victory in the ninth stage to Naples after a thrilling sprint against Jonathan Milan. The team wished him a speedy recovery and once again highlighted the string of bad luck that has plagued them throughout the season.

Yet, amidst these setbacks, attention still turns to Cian Uijtdebroeks' performance in the overall classification. The Belgian rider currently sits in fifth place and wears the white jersey. Uijtdebroeks expressed optimism about the remainder of the Giro to this site, among others. "My primary goal was to minimize the gap in the first week, but to now be in the white jersey and fifth in the GC after tough stages, including gravel and time trials... That's a very positive situation. I'm thrilled."

Also Astana and Israel-Premier Tech come with bad news

Also at Astana Qazaqstan, they will shift their focus to the overall ranking starting from day ten. The Kazakh team has already lost Alexey Lutsenko due to illness, and on Tuesday morning, they reported the withdrawal of sprinter Max Kanter as well. The German sprinter, who finished tenth in Naples on Sunday, was already feeling unwell after the ninth stage and now has to abandon the race. Astana reports that Kanter is suffering from a rather acute respiratory infection and has a fever, making it medically unwise to continue racing, as ruled by the medical staff on the rest day.

This development also means Astana will have to redirect its attention toward the mountains. Lorenzo Fortunato remains in good form after the second rest day. The Italian rider is in the top ten of the general classification and will be supported by his compatriots Simone Velasco and Cristian Scaroni in their endeavor to maintain that position as they head towards Rome. Before reaching Rome, Tuesday brings another crucial stage, to Bocca della Selva.

However, the string of bad news did not end there on Tuesday morning. Israel-Premier Tech, which had already seen Michael Woods, Nadav Raisberg, and Riley Pickrell withdraw in the first week, now has to continue without sprinter Ethan Vernon. The team announced this via X. The 23-year-old Briton also expressed his disappointment about the withdrawal through team channels. Vernon had been feeling unwell for some time and has now decided to end his fight in this Giro. "I tried to overcome the illness that has been bothering me for a while with antibiotics, but unfortunately, I didn't succeed on the rest day. With the Olympics, a significant goal still ahead for me this summer, the doctor advised against taking any risks. I thoroughly enjoyed the first days of my first grand tour, and I hope to return in the years to come."

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