Piepoli, Klöden out; Moreau changes; Britain stage neutralised

Leonardo Piepoli has pulled out of the Tour of Spain before stage 12, after his wife gave birth.

Piepoli pulls out of Tour of Spain

Italian rider Leonardo Piepoli has pulled out of the Tour of Spain ahead of Thursday's 12th stage to join his wife who has just given birth. Organisers said in a statement that Piepoli "pulled out of the race because his wife was not well after giving birth".

The Saunier Duval rider, who won Sunday's ninth stage, had been sitting tenth in the overall standings.

Klöden out of world champs

German rider Andreas Klöden, who suffered a bad accident in training at the beginning of September, announced on Thursday he has withdrawn from this month's world road championships in Stuttgart.

"Unfortunately, I do not have enough time to be to 100 percent ready for the beginning of the World Championships," said the 32-year-old Astana rider on his website. "I have told the people in charge of the German Cycling Federation that I won't be racing in Stuttgart," said the German who was second in the 2004 Tour de France.

"It would not have been fair to replace one of my colleagues who is fit," said Klöden who is part of the preliminary team selected at the end of August.

The cyclist suffered a hand and hip injury when he crashed while trying to avoid a car in training just two days before a race in western France, which would have been his first since the Tour de France. His Astana team withdrew from this year's Tour after their rider Alexandre Vinokourov failed a drugs test.

The German national team, which controversially contains Erik Zabel who last May confessed to taking banned blood-booster EPO in the 1990s, will be trimmed to nine names on September 18.

Moreau joins Agritubel

French cycling champion Christophe Moreau is leaving AG2R to ride for Agritubel next season, his new team said on Thursday.

The 36-year-old Moreau, a household name in France, won the Dauphiné Libéré Criterium in June before finishing 37th in the Tour de France the following month after a promising first half of the race.

Tour of Britain's fourth stage neutralised

The middle 20 miles of the Tour of Britain's fourth stage were neutralised because the race didn't have permission to race on that particular stretch of road. Thursday's 101 mile stage between Rotherham and Bradford was halted at mile 46, with the riders being escorted by police under neutral conditions until mile 67. The race then resumed.

The organisers said that all but one of the 42 relevant highway authorities had given them permission to race. But the North Yorkshire authority said that the ToB's application was late.

© AFP & BikeRadar 2007

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