Sir Bradley Wiggins abandoned the opening stage of the Tour de Yorkshire before LottoNL-Jumbo’s Dylan Groenewegen took victory in Settle.
Making one of his final appearances in a road race, Wiggins climbed off his bike 26 kilometres from the finish of the 187km route from Beverley to Settle.
The 2012 Tour de France winner had been riding towards the back of the peloton on an unseasonably cold day as they raced along roads which had been dusted with snow at dawn.
Wiggins, who turned 36 on Thursday, was dropped by the pack as they approached the only categorised climb of the day at Greenhow Hill and abandoned soon after the descent.
Wiggins did not give any interviews after the race, but used Instagram to explain he had to give priority to his ambitions on the track at the Rio Olympics later this summer.
He wrote: “Great atmosphere in Yorkshire today. It was a tough day’s racing so thanks to everyone who braved the weather and came out. The boys and I really appreciate it. I’m gutted not to join you into the weekend but Rio needs to take priority.”
The stage, which had seen riders battle biting temperatures and howling headwinds in the Dales, ended in a bunch sprint as Groenewegen beat Orica-GreenEdge’s Caleb Ewan, who found himself boxed in on the narrow finishing straight.
“It was very good lead-out from my team,” said Groenewegen. “It was perfect. The last corner I took the lead and I could hold it to the finish. I’m very happy with this win, it’s very good for me and the team.”
After plenty of work on the front of the peloton, Team Sky had to be satisfied with fifth place for Danny van Poppel, although their ambitions remain focused on the general classification which is likely to come down to tomorrow’s final stage.
Sky sporting director Brett Lancaster said: “It was a tough stage and very cold, but we rode on the front pretty much the whole day to keep our leaders out of trouble.
“Danny was a little bit disappointed he couldn’t quite finish it off at the end, but he gave it his best shot.
“We’ll get back out there and do it all again tomorrow, and hopefully it’ll be a bit warmer.”