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Martin Velits will replace Stijn Vandenbergh in Omega Pharma-Quick Step’s Tour de France squad, the team announced Tuesday. Vandenbergh is suffering from a saddle sore.
“I had this problem in the last 10 days, and it was almost solved,” said Vandenbergh in a team release. “But Sunday’s national championship exacerbated the problem. Together with the medical staff of the team, we decided not to take risks. This is why I will not participate in the Tour. I am really sad, but I think there are no other solutions.”
Omega Pharma brings to France two overall contenders in Levi Leipheimer and Peter Velits, as well as world time trial champion Tony Martin. Vandenbergh said his withdrawal was the best move for the team.
“I have to think also about the team,” he said. “I don’t want to start, not knowing how I would be during the race. The Tour is a demanding race, and you need nine riders completely ready and healthy for the fight. I hope the guys will have a great Tour de France, and that they can fight for prestigious results.”
Martin Velits, twin brother of Peter Velits, will replace Vandenbergh and make his first Tour start. He has finished four times at the Vuelta a España, including in 2010, when Peter Velits finished second behind Vincenzo Nibali. He withdrew from the Giro d’Italia three days from the finish in May.
“It is a shame for Vandenbergh,” said Velits. “I can imagine how he is feeling now. I know how difficult it is to train and be ready for a race and then be forced to not participate because of an injury. That is why I will give it all for the team and for him at the next Tour. I am ready, am in good condition and am really looking forward to my first Tour de France.”