Gruissan, France - Former Tour de France champion Andy Schleck dropped out of the Tour of Mediterranean on Wednesday, failing to complete the first stage due to breathing problems.
The pull-out is yet another setback for the 27-year-old, 2010 Tour de France winner who dropped out of the Tour Down Under in the final stage and has been hit by a spate of injuries that meant he failed to start the 2012 Tour de France.
"This morning I already had breathing problems," explained Schleck.
"Instead of getting better, it just got worse during the race because of the cold and the wind. I didn't want to abandon out of respect for the fans and the organization, but also because I need this competition.
"After the Tour Down Under I felt I was in a good way and I was really looking forward to this race.
"I am now sicker than I was before. I need to let my body recover and I hope I can resume training as soon as possible. In theory my race program will not change."
Germany's Andre Greipel leads the five-day race after winning the first stage in a sprint finish.