Canadian cyclist Ryder Hesjedal is recovering from a respiratory tract infection that forced him to pull out of the Giro d'Italia.

Hesjedal's Garmin-Sharp team revealed Tuesday that the Victoria native developed an upper respiratory tract infection during the race, which he won in 2012. He has returned to his home in Girona, Spain since pulling out on Friday.

The team said Hesjedal entered the race in very good physical form, but was still vulnerable to illness. His effort in the Stage-8 time trial, combined with further efforts in rainy and cold conditions, stressed his immune system and made him susceptible to contracting the infection.

He completed the ninth and 10th stages, but his suffering continued and he pulled out before the 11th stage. At the time, he sat in 38th place overall, more than 32 minutes behind the leader.

The team said it was virtually impossible for him to continue competing, because the condition would have worsened.

"It appears that Ryder had been exposed to the virus affecting many in the peloton during the first week of racing," said team physician Phil Stawski in a news release.