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 cooperate,” 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 our 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 our top-ranked rider where he’ll be ably supported by Jacques Janse van Rensburg, Jaco Venter, Ryan Gibbons, Ben King and Natnael Berhane on the run into Rome.