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Levi Leipheimer hopes to be back for Basque Country

Levi Leipheimer is recovering from an old intestinal injury that took him out of the Volta a Catalunya and hopes to return to racing in time for the Vuelta al País Vasco in northern Spain next week.

Leipheimer was sitting second overall at the week-long Catalunya tour when he was struck down by intestinal pain that sent him overnight to a Spanish hospital. He was unable to start Sunday’s finale, but posted a Twitter notice Monday that indicates he’s already feeling better.

“Spending the day on the couch and eating again,” Leipheimer wrote on Twitter. “I’ll be back at Pays Basque, after some recovery.”

RadioShack team officials described Leipheimer’s condition as an “abdominal sub-obstruction,” something that’s plagued him in the past.

Here’s what the team posted on its website:

Levi Leipheimer had to abandon the final stage of the Vuelta a Catalunya due to an abdominal sub-obstruction. This is an issue Leipheimer has dealt with for a long time, dating back to his childhood when he was kicked in the stomach by a horse. At that time the injury caused intestinal damage and Levi had to undergo abdominal surgery. This surgery caused adhesions and scar tissue. These adhesions reduced intestinal motility and at one point caused a life-threatening intestinal obstruction during the time Levi raced for team Rabobank. When intestinal motility is blocked, first a person gets severe abdominal pain. When the obstruction persists, intestinal fluids can get into the abdominal cavity and cause a lethal sepsis. Saturday night Levi had a semi-obstruction. He had a lot of pain and was transferred to the hospital where he stayed overnight for observation. Fortunately the sub-obstruction didn’t turn into an obstruction and he was able to leave the hospital this morning.

Leipheimer rode well throughout the week-long Catalunya tour and gave Alberto Contador (Saxo Bank-Sungard) a run for his money in the decision, mountain-top stage finish in Andorra on Wednesday. Leipheimer was laying second overall at 23 seconds back.

With Leipheimer out of the race, Michele Scarponi (Lampre) slotted into second overall and Dan Martin (Garmin-Cervélo) bumped up to third.

RadioShack still won the team classification and Chris Horner moved up to fourth overall.

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