Saunier Duval-Scott's Leonardo Piepoli withdrew from the Giro d'Italia during Sunday's stage 15 after a fall on the Falzarego, just 15 kilometres before the finish line.
Initial test suggested that Piepoli sustained no serious injuries; however, the rider was complaining of a strong blow in his ribs that prevented him from breathing properly.
"The pain was so strong I couldn't breathe," said Piepoli after the race. "It's tough for me to leave the Giro like this, especially because I still had important things to do in Italy this year, and I know I could've done them. In any case, I fell behind before crashing, so I couldn't have helped [third placed Riccardo Riccò] today."
After a strong ride Sunday, team-mate Riccò said, "I can say I'm really happy with what I did. I'd promised to attack and I did so, stealing some precious seconds from my rivals. Above all, I've proved to myself I can make a difference in this kind of stages. Now I'm 33" behind the overall leader, a gap I can still bridge, and I can't help but think that hadn´t it been for that fall in the ITT in Urbino, I'd be wearing the maglia rosa."
Thinking of his fallen team-mate, the young star said, "The bad news of the day was Piepoli's withdrawal. He's been a powerful ally; I'll miss him in what's left of this Giro. About tomorrow's mountain time-trial, I don't think it'll be very decisive with regard to time differences between the favourites, unless someone plunges down. If [Emmanuele] Sella rides like he did today, my bet is on him. My goal will be snatching some more seconds off my rivals and get the rest in the last week."
See Cyclingnews' complete coverage of stage 15 of the Giro d'Italia.