No Olympic Games for defending champion Sanchez

The defending Olympic road race champion Samuel Sánchez will not take part in the 2012 Olympic Games in London, his Euskaltel-Euskadi team announced today.

The Spaniard was forced to drop out of the Tour de France with a host of injuries from a crash on stage 8, the worst of which was a broken finger and damaged shoulder.

After taking a week off the bike, Sanchez reportedly got back to riding on Tuesday and realized that he could not train properly - his finger prevents him from being able to shift properly and his shoulder causes too much pain while riding.

Sánchez called the move, "the most painful decision" he has had to make. "I am the Olympic champion and I wish to defend a medal that changed my life. After that victory, I have a street with my name, a life-sized statue depicting the time when I bit the medal ... It was a very significant victory, for four years I have worn a jersey that identified me as the Olympic gold medalist."

He continued that he is sad, but that his first concern is his own health and that of his teammates, which he might endanger if he tried to pilot his bike with a broken finger.

"There is still a lot of season ahead and there are very ambitious targets. I have to keep adding points in the World Tour, and the Worlds... I am looking forward to that. There are still many challenges ahead and the first thing is to recover fully to confront them with good condition and motivation," he said.

Sánchez is the second member of the Spanish Olympic team to drop out due to injuries from the Tour's crash-filled first week: Oscar Freire also withdrew from the Tour and the Olympic team and was replaced for London by sprinter Francisco Ventoso.

Jonathan Castroviejo will substitute for Sanchez in both the road race and time trial. The 25-year-old Movistar team member has posted several top individual time trial results. He burst onto the WorldTour stage win a prologue victory in the 2011 Tour de Romandie. This year, he won the Vuelta a la Comunidad de Madrid in May, was 10th in the Tour de San Luis test, fourth in the Circuit de la Sarthe and second in his national championships time trials. However, most of his top results were in tests under 20km.

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