Frustrated by his poor form, Cadel Evans quit the Tirreno-Adriatico with one stage remaining in a bid to regroup for bigger goals ahead.
The Australian was in 70th place and more than half an hour down on eventual race winner Alberto Contador heading into Tuesday’s final stage time trial at San Benedetto del Tronto.
Evans’ BMC Racing Team did not give a specific reason for the withdrawal but announced he would return to his Swiss home to resume training towards his main 2014 goal, the Giro d’Italia starting in May.
Evans’ year began brightly with a runner-up finish at the Tour Down Under but he said his latest form was of serious concern.
“Obviously, my results are not anywhere near my expectations or intentions coming here,” Evans said.
“It is disappointing because we obviously worked a lot and I worked to continue the momentum that we started at the Tour Down Under.
“But obviously, the results tell a different story.
“So I will have to go home and reassess the situation and start again toward the next goals.”
At 37, Evans will focus on the Giro over the Tour de France this year.
He finished third overall in last year’s Giro but he isn’t taking consolation in the fact that result came after also struggling in the 2013 Tirreno-Adriatico.
“I’d prefer to win Tirreno and win the following grand tour,” Evans said.
“Unfortunately things aren’t going well but that’s the way it goes.
“We have ups and downs. That’s life, isn’t it?”
Evans struggled in the mountains at Tirreno-Adriatico, losing more than 25 minutes to Contador over the weekend.
Fellow Australian and pre-race contender Richie Porte pulled out of the race prior to stage five due to illness, aiding Contador’s return to form.
Italian Adriano Malori won Tuesday’s final stage, ahead of Fabian Cancellara and Bradley Wiggins.