Sky's Kurt-Asle Arvesen has had to abandon the Vuelta after 143 kilometres of racing on Thursday, the Vuelta's website reported, saying that the Norwegian's injuries from a crash on Wednesday were behind his quitting.
Arvesen accidently collided with a young spectator in a crash during yesterday's stage to Valdepeñas. Thankfully, the spectator's injuries were limited to a cut nose and lip and the child was due to leave hospital today [Thursday] but Arvesen's body were covered with cuts and bruises and he complained of a sore left knee.
In a press release yesterday Sky's sports director Steve De Jongh said "There's not much skin left on his knees and back so we'll see what happens in terms of him being able to carry on." He also added that Arvesen's biggest concern had been whether the spectator was ok - and Sky contacted the boy's father, who confirmed that he was all right.
The Vuelta was due to be Arvesen's last Grand Tour before retiring at the end of the season. His role in Sky's Vuelta line-up was that of team captain on the road.
So far there had been few abandons in the Vuelta, although some big names like Mark Cavendish and Matt Goss (both HTC-Highroad) have gone, but today's stage to Cordoba is reversing the trend.
The 193 kilometre grind across some seriously hilly (and of course baking hot, we're back up into the high thirties yet again) terrain in north-eastern Andalusia has also seen Matti Breschel (Rabobank), the winner of the stage into Madrid a few years back, quit after crashing in the neutralised section.
Former French national champion Nicholas Vogondy (Cofidis) and Johann Tschopp (BMC) also abandoned, and Alessandro Petacchi (Lampre) has been seen dropping back to the race doctor's car for unspecified reasons.
Oscar Freire (Rabobank), who won in Cordoba back in 2000 in his rainbow jersey of World Champion, is also reported to be sick and contemplating pulling out.
Arvesen at the beginning of stage six, before his injuries got the better of him
Vuelta a Espana 2011: Cycling Weekly's coverage index
Vuelta a Espana 2011: Latest news
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Vuelta a Espana 2011: Teams, riders, start list
Vuelta a Espana 2011: Who's riding?
Vuelta a Espana 2011 team list
Vuelta a Espana 2011
: Stage reports
Stage four: Moreno wins first mountain skirmish at Sierra Nevada
Stage three: Lastras solos to stage and takes red jersey
Stage two: Sutton grabs stage win to set things right for Sky
Stage one: Leopard-Trek win opening TTT to put Fuglsang in front
Vuelta a Espana 2011: Photo galleries
By Graham Watson
Stage four photo gallery
Stage three photo gallery
Stage two photo gallery
Stage one photo gallery
Vuelta a Espana 2011: TV guide
Vuelta a Espana 2011: ITV4 TV schedule
Vuelta a Espana 2011: British Eurosport TV schedule
ITV to show 2011 Vuelta
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