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Canadian Ryder Hesjedal forced to drop out of Giro d'Italia with illness

Canadian Ryder Hesjedal, who won the race in 2012, has dropped out of the Giro d'Italia due to illness.

Former winner was 14th overall in standings

Canada's Ryder Hesjedal, seen here in the 2015 Giro d'Italia, was forced to drop out of the 2016 edition. (Luk Benies/AFP/Getty Images)

Canadian Ryder Hesjedal, who won the race in 2012, has dropped out of the Giro d'Italia due to illness.

The 35-year-old from Victoria withdrew halfway through Saturday's 210-kilometre stage. Trek-Segafredo, his racing team, said he was suffering from pharyngitis (inflammation of the pharynx) and tracheitis (inflammation of the trachea).

He had been fighting off symptoms since Monday's rest day.

"Definitely not how I envisioned it, but it's how it goes," said Hesjedal. "It has already been since Monday that I wasn't feeling very good, but every day I have been trying to get through it, and I had seemed to be getting through, so I kept pushing. But today the body was not responding and I felt pretty bad all over."

The Canadian was 14th in the overall standings going into Saturday's stage, the 14th of 21.

Hesjedal called Saturday "a total nightmare."

"On a stage that is so beautiful and what I love most about the Giro, my body didn't co-operate with my mind. I wanted more than anything to do the best Giro I could for my team, family, friends and fans," he said.

"As soon as we started climbing I knew something was not right. My body just didn't work anywhere near to the last days. I was struggling to hold the wheel in my terrain. Rapidly my body began to feel worse with a bad stomach — I had the feeling of the need to use the toilet, with a headache and dizziness. This was also concerning for the downhills as my balance was being affected. I have been fighting a respiratory ailment since Monday and the efforts this week I guess took its toll."

The withdrawal leaves Trek-Segafredo with six riders in the final week of the race.

Hesjedal is the only Canadian to win one of cycling's three marquee Grand Tour events (the Tour de France and Vuelta a Espana are the other two).

The remaining Canadians in the field are Svein Tuft of Langley, B.C., and Hugo Houle of Ste-Perpetue, Que.

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