Sir Bradley Wiggins has withdrawn from the Giro d'Italia on medical advice. The 33-year-old Team Sky cyclist was 13th in the general classification, three minutes and 18 seconds behind team mate Rigoberto Uran in third and a further two minutes and four seconds behind leader Vincenzo Nibali.
On Wednesday, after completing Stage 11 of the race, Wiggins complained of a "chest infection and a bog-standard head cold". The seven-time Olympic medallist said: "I'm not feeling very good at the moment, I've had a pretty rough 24 hours, I just want to try and fight through it and hope that in a few days' time I'll be all right. Most of the team have been sick. It seems to last for three or four days and then you get better."
However, the continuing illness has forced the team to withdraw Wiggins from the race, with one eye on his general health and another on the Tour de France, which starts on 29 June.
"His chest infection has been getting worse and our primary concern is always the health of our riders," Team Sky boss Sir Dave Brailsford said, adding, "Bradley will return to the UK today for treatment and to rest, and we hope to have him back on the road as soon as possible."
Apart from Wiggins in 13th and Uran in third, Team Sky also have Sergio Henao Montoya in 11th and Kanstantsin Siutsou in 43rd, with Salvatore Puccio, Dario Cataldo, Christian Knees, Xabier Echaide Zandio and Danny Pate also in the standings.
Meanwhile, defending Giro champion Ryder Hesjedal of Team Garmin-Sharp has also withdrawn, ahead of Stage 13. Friday's stage is the longest of the race, with cyclists travelling 254km from Busseto to Cherasco and is the last relatively flat stage before the mountains.
Cyclists will face a third-category climb at the end of the stage, called Tre Cuni. This will be 10km long and, at its peak, they will be 37km from the finish line.