Levi Leipheimer pulled out of the Volta a Catalunya before the final stage to Barcelona after spending Saturday night in hospital.
The American RadioShack rider was lying second overall just 23 seconds behind Alberto Contador but quit the race due to stomach problems. The RadioShack team explained that Leipheimer was unable to start the final 124km stage due to an abdominal sub-obstruction.
“This is an issue Leipheimer has dealt with for a long time, dating back to his childhood when he was kicked in the stomach by a horse,” the team said in a statement.
“At that time the injury caused intestinal damage and Levi had to undergo abdominal surgery. This surgery caused adhesions and scar tissue. These adhesions reduced intestinal motility and at one point caused a life-threatening intestinal obstruction during the time Levi raced for team Rabobank. When intestinal motility is blocked, first a person gets severe abdominal pain. When the obstruction persists, intestinal fluids can get into the abdominal cavity and cause a lethal sepsis.
“Saturday night Levi had a semi-obstruction. He had a lot of pain and was transferred to the hospital where he stayed overnight for observation. Fortunately the sub-obstruction didn’t turn into an obstruction and he was able to leave the hospital this morning.”
Leipheimer talked about his problem in two Twitter messages. He said: “Really disappointed to fall ill on the last day of @VoltaCatalunya Believe me I'd race if I could, but I'm down for the count.”
He later apologised to his teammates for being unable to finish the race.
“Thank you to @TeamRadioShack teammates for all their hard work, I'm sorry to let you down!”
Despite Leipheimer’s withdrawal from the race, RadioShack went on to win the team prize at the Volta a Catalunya thanks to Chris Horner’s fourth place overall and top twenty placings from Haimar Zubeldia and Jani Brajkovic.