Mark Cavendish has become one of several riders to abandon Paris-Nice after a brutal opening couple of stages dominated by crashes and crosswinds.
Team Dimension-Data confirmed before the start of stage three that their British sprinter had decided not to continue the race.
“Mark was forced to stop on the back of a challenging two days,” read a statement on the team’s website.
“The race was just his third back, following already tough outings at the Vuelta a San Juan and the UAE Tour; as he continues to work his way back towards full fitness following a long lay-off from racing due to illness last year.”
Cavendish’s team-mate Louis Meintjes also pulled out of the race after stage three. The South African crashed at a roundabout after 73km.
Crosswinds repeatedly split the peloton on the second day of the race in which Spain’s Gorka Izagirre and French rider Warren Barguil were taken out by a crash after 59km.
Barguil’s Arkea-Samsic team said the 27-year-old, who won the mountain classification in the 2017 Tour de France, suffered a broken neck and was to be transferred to a specialised unit at the Bicetre hospital in Paris.
EF Education First’s Rigoberto Uran also abandoned the race after breaking his collarbone in a separate crash. The Colombian will head straight to Monaco to have surgery.