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Fränk Schleck pulls out of Giro d'Italia

It has been confirmed that RadioShack-Nissan's Fränk Schleck has pulled out of the 2012 Giro d'Italia on stage 15. The 32-year-old from Luxembourg, who finished in third place at last year's Tour de France, was a late addition to his team's squad for the Giro following an injury to Jakob Fuglsang and had stated a week ago that he was starting to enjoy himself in Italy despite a hurried preparation.

However, a collision with Alex Rasmussen in an incident-packed stage 11 on Wednesday upset Schleck, who publically criticised the Garmin-Barracuda rider and blamed him for the time he lost in the GC. Schleck started the 15th stage this morning in Busto Arsizio but pulled out just before the peloton reached the 30km point. He was lying 15th overall in the GC, 2:20 behind race leader Ryder Hesjedal and will now focus all his attention on his Tour de France preparations.

At the start in Busto Arsizio on Sunday morning, however, RadioShack-Nissan manager Johan Bruyneel told Cyclingnews that he did not believe Schleck’s injury was serious enough to merit abandoning the Giro d’Italia, and he was adamant that his rider could not only continue but aspire to a placing in the top 5 overall.

“As far as I’m concerned, his physical condition is good,” Bruyneel said. “There is an injury. It will probably be a problem sometimes to stay with the best guys but it’s definitely not an injury to consider an abandon.”

Bruyneel also denied that Schleck had earlier sought to abandon the Giro in order to prepare for the Tour de France in the company of his brother Andy. On Sunday morning Gazzetta dello Sport reported that Bruyneel, Schleck and Kim Andersen held a meeting on the matter on Saturday night at the RadioShack-Nissan hotel in Cerro Maggiore, but Bruyneel said the story did not have substance.

“It’s at least not the intention. Fränk came here to do a good Giro and that’s still the plan,” he said. “With the shoulder injury, there is obviously a problem. I think there was a small dislocation or separation. It’s been fixed but the damage is there, but a shoulder is better than a leg I would say. He can pedal, he was able to stay with the best guys on the climb yesterday.”

Bruyneel declined to answer questions from journalists on reports that he had been served with a subpoena by federal investigators on his arrival in the United States for the Amgen Tour of California last week.

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