Wiggins Withdraws from Giro

Defending champ Hesjedal also drops

Bradley Wiggins riding to Olympic gold.    

The Giro d'Italia lost two top contenders on Friday when reigning Tour de France champion Bradley Wiggins and defending Giro winner Ryder Hesjedal both withdrew from the Italian stage race.

“We monitored Bradley overnight and this morning we’ve withdrawn him from the Giro after consulting the team doctor,” team principal David Brailsford said in a team statement. “Bradley will return to the U.K. today for treatment and to rest and we hope to have him back on the road as soon as possible."

After a strong start in the team time trial, Wiggins had struggled throughout the race, losing time on several hilly and wet stages. On Wednesday, he admitted that he was suffering from a respiratory infection and cold, but intended to fight for a spot on the podium.

His hopes for the overall disappeared Thursday when he dropped more than three minutes off the pace on the slippery descent into the finish. Team Sky will now turn to Rigoberto Uran, who sits in third place at 2:04 behind race leader Vincenzo Nibali, to lead the team.

Meanwhile, Hesjedal withdrew from the race after losing more than 20 minutes Wednesday.

“It’s heartbreaking,” said Hesjedal in a team press release. “I want to be here for my team and for all the people who have supported me to get me here to this point. I built my entire season around the Giro and I came here feeling great, but I have been suffering since the TT. We’re working on it, but we’re not sure what’s wrong."

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