Cape Town - Team Dimension Data for
Qhubeka rider Louis Meintjes has been forced to withdraw from the Giro d’Italia
due to illness.
The 26-year-old, riding the event
for the first time, had been inside the top-50 on the General Classification
after Stage 16, but had been struggling with flu-like symptoms in recent days.
He took the decision in
conjunction with the team doctor and sporting directors; and departed the team
following the individual time trial that finished in Rovereto on Tuesday.
“Unfortunately, Louis has come
down with what seems to be a viral upper respiratory infection. He has systemic
symptoms including fever which preclude him from participating further in the
Giro for fear of dangerous complications,” explained Dr Adrian Rotunno.
Meintjes has now returned home
where he will focus on making a swift recovery.
“It’s obviously really
disappointing to have to stop the Giro d’Italia in the final week but my body
just doesn’t want to co-operate,” he said.
“I felt my condition was
gradually improving during the race and I was looking forward to playing a role
at the three upcoming mountain stages but it is just not possible. The team is
riding well, Ben (O’Connor) has been very impressive so I know the team will
finish the Giro strongly. I will do everything I can to get healthy and come
back stronger,” Meintjes added.
Meintjes is the second member of the team to withdraw from the race following the earlier exit of Igor Anton.
Ben O’Connor, who currently
occupies 12th position on the GC, remains the team's top-ranked rider where he’ll be supported by Jacques Janse van Rensburg, Jaco Venter, Ryan Gibbons, Ben
King and Natnael Berhane on the run into Rome.