Ivan Basso is pulling out of the Tour de France after revealing he has testicular cancer.
The 37-year-old Italian says the discovery was made after he crashed on the fifth stage and subsequently felt pain in his left testicle.
Basso is due to undergo surgery in Milan on Tuesday.
The two-time Giro d’Italia winner has been riding for the Tinkoff-Saxo team led by Spain’s Alberto Contador.
“I have grown closer to Ivan in the past weeks and this is terrible news,” said Contador, with tears in his eyes.
Tough day,doctors have discovered a serious health problem to
ivanbasso</a>.Everything will go well,see you in Paris! <a href="http://t.co/sTyBv3MZO3">pic.twitter.com/sTyBv3MZO3</a></p>— Alberto Contador (albertocontador) 13 Juillet 2015
In 2004 and 2005, Basso finished third and second overall in the world’s greatest race but his career was interrupted by a two-year ban for involvement in the Operation Puerto blood-doping scandal.
He admitted to “attempted doping” in 2007 and was hit by a backdated suspension.
Basso appeared on course for Tour glory when he won the white jersey for the best Under-25 rider in 2002, in an era dominated by the disgraced American Lance Armstrong, a testicular cancer survivor.
“Thinking about Ivan Basso and wishing him the very best as he embarks on his cancer journey,” Armstrong tweeted.
ivanbasso</a> and wishing him the very best as he embarks on his cancer journey. <a href="https://twitter.com/hashtag/IvanSTRONG?src=hash">#IvanSTRONG</a>!!</p>— Lance Armstrong (lancearmstrong) 13 Juillet 2015
— lynn banks (@lynnbanks10) 13 Juillet 2015
MarkCavendish</a> <a href="https://twitter.com/ivanbasso">ivanbasso You are a good man Mark! Good luck Ivan, you're a strong man, you can beat this!