Cycling: Andy Schleck drops out of Tour of Mediterranean

Former Tour de France champion Andy Schleck dropped out of the Tour of Mediterranean on Wednesday, failing to complete the first stage due to breathing problems.

The pull-out is yet another setback for the 27-year-old, 2010 Tour de France winner who dropped out of the Tour Down Under in the final stage and has been hit by a spate of injuries that meant he failed to start the 2012 Tour de France.

"This morning I already had breathing problems," explained Schleck.

"Instead of getting better, it just got worse during the race because of the cold and the wind. I didn't want to abandon out of respect for the fans and the organization, but also because I need this competition.

"After the Tour Down Under I felt I was in a good way and I was really looking forward to this race.

"I am now sicker than I was before. I need to let my body recover and I hope I can resume training as soon as possible. In theory my race program will not change."

Germany's Andre Greipel leads the five-day race after winning the first stage in a sprint finish.