LEVENS cyclist James Knox has returned to the Giro d'Italia one year after he was forced to abandon the Italian grand tour with injury.

The Deceuninck – Quick-Step has seen teammate Joao Almeida race to the front of the pack in the three-week stage race.

Knox is among nine British entrants in the race, one of road cycling's biggest events.

The 24-year-old Knox leads the British contingent, in 20th place - three minutes and 26 seconds behind the race leader.

Fellow Brit and pre-race favourite Simon Yates is fighting to stay in touch with the overall contenders after Ineos Grenadiers' Filippo Ganna won stage five of the Giro d'Italia yesterday.

World road time trial champion Ganna spent the whole 225km stage in the breakaway, going clear up the category one climb of the 'dark mountain'.

Britain's former Tour de France champion Geraint Thomas, a favourite for the pink winner's jersey this year, has already pulled out with injury.

Scans revealed he suffered a fractured pelvis in a crash during Monday’s stage three to Mount Etna.

Welshman Thomas completed Monday's stage but lost more than 12 minutes, effectively ending his hopes of winning the race.

Knox turned professional in 2018 and turned heads with an 11th place finish in last year's Vuelta a España.

He was forced to pull out of last year's Giro in the after losing a battle with an injury sustained in the early stages of the race.

Know was the first Cumbrian to ride in one of cycling’s Grand Tour’s, has impressed for his Deceuninck – Quick-Step team so far in his career.

But due to an injury that he sustained after his accident in Stage four (Orbetello – Frascati), medical staff had advised him to retire after 12 stages.

Speaking about the race last year, he said: “Despite this, it’s been really great to be here, part of the team, and to live this experience.

"I am of course pretty disappointed, as the crashes on Stage three and four ruined the fun for me and put me on survival mode, but I hope to return to the Giro d’Italia in the near future, because it’s such a great race.”

The 2020 Giro is the 103rd edition of the race and finishes October 25.