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Page last updated at 06:27 GMT, Saturday, 4 September 2010 07:27 UK

Team Sky withdraw from Tour of Spain after tragedy

Txema Gonzalez
Gonzalez was a former amateur rider

Team Sky have pulled out of the Tour of Spain following the death of masseur Txema Gonzalez.

The 43-year-old died in hospital in Seville five days after being taken ill with a bacterial infection.

Team doctor Steve Peters said the infection was not linked to the virus affecting its riders on the Tour.

"We have considered all the elements very carefully and this is the only decision we could take," said team chief Dave Brailsford.

"It's the right one; to show respect to Txema and to look after our team.

"We discussed it with Txema's family and they fully support our decision. They have asked us to the funeral next week and we will of course be there to support them and to pay our respects.

"Others - staff and riders - have been ill during this Tour and Juan Antonio Flecha pulled out on Friday. The medical conditions are different but we need to take care of our team.

"Txema will be remembered as a warm-hearted colleague who was a joy to work with."

Team Sky rider Juan Antonio Flecha pulled out of Friday's seventh stage of the Tour of Spain because of a fever and upset stomach.

Ben Swift and John Lee Augustyn, team-mates in the British outfit, withdrew from the race on Monday after suffering sickness.


However, Dr Peters said: "I should clarify that [Gonzalez's] bacterial infection has nothing to do with the viral infection which many of the team have suffered with in Spain."

"Txema contracted a bacterial infection which entered the bloodstream and developed into sepsis.

"The toxins from this had damaged the organs in his body and he went into septic shock and unfortunately succumbed to that."

Gonzalez was an amateur rider with Spanish team KAS and worked with the ProTour teams Euskaltel-Euskadi and Saunier Duval before joining Team Sky for their debut season in 2010.

A minute's silence in Gonzalez's memory was held before the start of the Tour of Spain's eighth stage on Saturday, which was won by France's David Moncoutie.

Spain's Igor Anton, who finished seventh in the stage, took over the overall leader's red jersey from Philippe Gilbert after the Belgian was involved in an early tumble.

After the stage, Anton dedicated his red jersey win to Gonzalez.

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see also
Cavendish beaten again in Spain
01 Sep 10 |  Cycling
Ill Team Sky riders abandon Tour
30 Aug 10 |  Cycling
Cavendish loses in sprint finish
29 Aug 10 |  Cycling
Team hands Cavendish Spain lead
28 Aug 10 |  Cycling
Team Sky learn lessons of Le Tour
25 Jul 10 |  Cycling

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