Following two crashes in the opening 12 stages of the Giro d'Italia, Team Discovery Channel's Yaroslav "Popo" Popovych did not start Friday's 13th stage due to excessive pain in his back and knee. The 27-year-old Ukrainian rider crashed in stage 1 and more recently, and severely, on stage 11 into Pinerolo, where he injured his back and knee.
Team Director Sean Yates consulted with the team physician and Popovych after the stage 11 crash and decided collectively that they would see how he felt on stage 12. Popovych immediately showed signs of difficulty on yesterday's first climb and radioed to Yates that his knee was bothering him.
"I spoke with Popo during the race and he let me know his knee was hurting, but he wanted to keep racing. He was in a lot of pain the last 50km," Yates commented. "Popo did not sleep well last night and had even more pain when he woke up today. The doctor advised him that medically it would not be a good idea to continue on in the race and jeopardize the remainder of his season. Popo agreed."
Discovery's Popovych came into the Giro with high aspirations having previously finished third and fifth in the 2003 and 2004 editions of the Giro. Abandoning the Giro was not an easy decision for Popovych.
"Of course I am very disappointed that things have turned out the way they have. I prepared very well for the Giro and was in good form when I arrived in Sardinia, but the two crashes were too much for my body to manage. It was hard to decide to stop but I know it is the best decision. I still have many races left this year, including the Tour, so all is not lost. I expect to recover quickly and be back in good form for the remainder of 2007," said Popovych according to a Discovery team press release.