Belkin team leader Robert Gesink withdraws from Vuelta a Espana to be with pregnant wife after she undergoes surgery

Robert Gesink has abandoned the 2014 Vuelta a Espana and will not start stage 18 on Thursday.

The Belkin team leader was lying in seventh place overall and has left the race to join his pregnant wife and family in the Netherlands.

“My pregnant wife has undergone surgery twice this past week,” said Gesink in a team statement. “Her situation has not improved and she is still in the hospital. I will immediately leave the Vuelta to be with my family, who needs me right now.”

Gesink himself underwent surgery earlier this year to correct a cardiac arrhythmia. The Vuelta was his return to Grand Tour riding and he had put in a solid performance to position himself six minutes and 43 seconds behind race leader Alberto Contador (Tinkoff-Saxo).

Tom Boonen (Omega Pharma-QuickStep) will be another non-starter on stage 18, as he withdraws from the Vuelta to prepare for the Road World Championships later this month.