Defending TransAlp champion Stefan Sahm (Team Bulls) will not race this 2011 edition of the mountain bike stage race on July 16-23 due to a medical condition. Sahm has been diagnosed with a thrombosis (clot) of a vein in his leg.
Last year, Sahm raced to victory with teammate Karl Platt in the eight-day race from Mittenwald, Germany, to Riva del Garda, Italy. The pair also won in 2007 and 2008.
"The diagnosis was a shock. But now, I finally know where I stand and why nothing has worked out since March," the Swiss-based Sahm said. Prior to the diagnosis, he had been complaining of severe pain in his left knee and not racing at the level he had expected.
"When I realized what could have happened in the last couple of weeks, I had to sit down for a moment."
In the worst case, Sahm could have suffered a pulmonary embolism. "According to my doctors, I was very lucky and had a very good guardian angel with me. And I don't want to use him too much in the upcoming weeks."
The 34-year-old is currently receiving therapy. He is taking an anti-coagulent to reduce the clotting of blood. It should speed up the breaking up of the clot. However, during the treatment, he is at greater risk of internal bleeding in the event of a crash, so the rider is not racing.
Treatment is expected to last three months, which puts Platt out of competition for the 670km TransAlp, the longest edition in history. His Bulls team is looking at other partnering options for Sahm's usual partner Platt.
"It's pretty likely that we will field Karl Platt and Thomas Dietsch. Both are specialized in stage racing and know each other quite a while now," said the squad's manager Friedemann Schmude. "Thus, both should go very well together and also contest the victory." There may be a second Team Bulls squad, too, but management is still trying to figure out which riders would take part in it.