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Piepoli pulls out of Vuelta

Leonardo Piepoli (Saunier Duval-Prodir) wins stage 9

Leonardo Piepoli (Saunier Duval-Prodir) wins stage 9 (Image credit: AFP)

Saunier Duval's Leonardo Piepoli was forced to withdraw from the Vuelta a España before the start of stage 12 due to a family emergency. Piepoli, who was leading the mountains classification and won stage nine, was called home to be with his wife, Sonia, who fell seriously ill after giving birth to the couple's first child, Yannis. Piepoli's son is healthy, but Sonia developed internal bleeding following childbirth, and Piepoli felt compelled to be with her.

"I feel so sorry about this," Piepoli said in a statement. "I didn't want to quit the Vuelta, but I have to be by my wife's side. There are moments in life when you just have to be there. It's my duty as a husband and father." While the decision to leave was painful, the 35 year-old said that he would have been too worried to race. "I wouldn't have been able to stay focused during the race, with my head in the hospital. I think the situation is under control now. Her doctor said everything was fine, that I could stay in the Vuelta, but I wanted to be by her side, giving her the support she needs.

"Looking at it from the racing point of view, it was a hard decision. Although my initial goal of scoring one stage win had been achieved, I was wearing the mountains jersey, and it would have been nice, both for me and for the team, to take it home."

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