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Andy Schleck pulls out of Catalunya

Andy Schleck (Saxo Bank) pulled out of the Volta a Catalunya before today's second stage, compounding his already troubled start to the 2010 season.

Schleck finished 131st, 27 seconds slower than stage winner Paul Voss (Milram) in the opening time trial at the Volta a Catalunya, but failed to start the 182.6km second stage from Salt to Banyoles.

"Unfortunately, Andy [Schleck] had a rough night with stomach pains and we chose to keep him from racing," said Kim Andersen, Saxo Bank directeur sportif. "He will be back on the bike tomorrow."

"I am very disappointed to have to withdraw from the Vuelta Catalunya," said Schleck via Twitter. "I was having gastro-intestinal problems since before Milan-San Remo. I realize that I can't change the current situation, but am still optimistic for the future races. I am confident for my main goals this year!"

Schleck hurt his knee after being hit by a car in training in December. He was able to keep training during the winter but revealed he had seen several specialists for treatment. He then felt a slight pain in his knee in January and was forced to delay the start to his 2010 season. He had planned to kick-off his season at the Trofeo Mallorca in early February but instead headed home to Luxembourg for treatment. He also missed the Ruta del Sol and eventually made his season debut at the Giro del Friuli on March 3.

He seemed back on track when he rode the Strade Bianche race and comfortably finished Tirreno-Adriatico. He also started Milan-San Remo last Saturday. He did not finish the 298km Classic but headed to Spain to get in some extra racing as he build-up for the Ardennes Classics in the second half of April.

After pulling out of Catalunya, Schleck will only have the Vuelta a Pais Vasco as final training for the hilly Classics. With Amstel Gold Race just three and a half weeks away, time is running out for him to find the kind of form that allowed him to win last year's Liège-Bastogne-Liège.

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