Cycling: Wiggins withdraws from Mallorca race

Tour de France winner Bradley Wiggins pulled out of the final stage of the Mallorca Challenge on Wednesday with over 100 kilometres of the race remaining.

There was an even more agonising withdrawal for Wiggins┬┤ Team Sky teammate Ben Swift who was taken to hospital after crashing on the final descent of the 170km stage from Can Picafort to Playa del Muro.

The race was eventually won by Australian Leigh Howard who was also victorious in the Santanyi to Ses Salines stage of the event on Monday.

Belgian Maarten Wynants came in second for the Blanco Pro Cycling Team and Italian Davide Cimolai of Lampre-Merida came in third.

Wiggins had been part of the peloton after just under 50km of the final leg of a four-day tour around the Balearic Isle before deciding to withdraw despite appearing not to have suffered any type of injury or accident.

The Englishman had struggled on his first outings of the 2013 season, finishing 161st and 152nd from the 178 strong peloton on the first two days of the challenge.

However, the four-time Olympic gold medallist had rebounded on the third stage between Deia and Lluc where he led by nearly a minute after 115km of the 150km race before being overhauled by a nine-strong breakaway pack that included teammate Sergio Henao and the eventual winner Alejandro Valverde.

Swift though had been in much better form as he made the podium with a third-place finish in Sunday┬┤s stage and had another top-10 finish the following day.

The 25-year-old had seemed well-placed for the final sprint once more as the riders made their descent towards Playa de Muro before crashing out.

Team Sky announced via their Twitter page that Swift had been taken to hospital as a precautionary measure.