Old injury drops Levi Leipheimer out of 2011 Volta a Catalunya

An old injury keeps Levi Leipheimer from starting the final stage at the Volta a Catalunya.

An old injury came back to haunt Levi Leipheimer (RadioShack) on the eve of the final stage at the Volta a Catalunya, leaving him unable to start.

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 was obviously disappointed to leave the race, but was relieved that there were not more serious complications.

“Thank you to my RadioShack teammates for all their hard work. I’m sorry to let you down,” Leipheimer wrote on his Twitter. “Really disappointed to fall ill on the last day. Believe me, I’d race if I could, but I’m down for the count.”

Leipheimer rode well throughout the weeklong Catalunya tour and gave Alberto Contador (Saxo Bank-Sungard) a run for his money in the decisive mountaintop stage finish in Andorra on Wednesday. Leipheimer was lying 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.