German Robert Bartko has called an end to his participation in the Zesdaagse van Vlaanderen Gent just 11 minutes into the nights' first Madison after suffering through four days of racing with injured ribs.
The two-time winner of the Gent Six Day crashed at the Munich Six Day earlier this month, and finally succumbed to the pain and breathing problems caused by his injuries.
"I have put too much on the ribs after my serious fall," Bartko explained. "I cannot even give my teammate a respectable throw. It is better that I give him the reins. This injury will not mend if I continue to race."
Barko's partner, Kenny De Ketele, will continue with Dutchman Peter Schep.
Schep was himself taken from the race on Thursday to the hospital after falling ill. He was treated for a kidney stone and released, and continued racing through Saturday when his own partner, Jeff Vermeulen, had to abandon with tendonitis in the knee.
The newly combined team placed fifth in the Madison.
Bruno Risi and Franco Marvulli won the Madison, and have claimed the overall lead for the first time this year. The Swiss pair gained a lap on bonus points, pulling ahead of the morning's leaders Iljo Keisse and Roger Kluge.
Laura Weislo has been with Cyclingnews since 2006 after making a switch from a career in science. As Deputy Editor, she coordinates coverage for North American events and global news. A swimmer in her younger days, Laura made the change to cycling later in life, but was immediately swept up by a huge passion for the sport. Riding for fitness quickly gave way to the competitive urge, and a decade of racing later she can look back on a number of high profile races and say with confidence, "I started". While her racing days are over for the most part, she continues to dabble in cyclo-cross and competing against fellow pathletes on the greenways of Raleigh, North Carolina.
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