Bradley Wiggins Withdraws From Mallorca Challenge

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MADRID, Feb 6, 2013 (AFP) – Tour de France winner Bradley Wiggins pulled
out of the final stage of the Mallorca Challenge on Wednesday with over 100
kilometres of the race remaining.

There was an even more agonising withdrawal for Wiggins┬┤ Team Sky teammate
Ben Swift who was taken to hospital after crashing on the final descent of the
170km stage from Can Picafort to Playa del Muro.

The race was eventually won by Australian Leigh Howard who was also
victorious in the Santanyi to Ses Salines stage of the event on Monday.

Belgian Maarten Wynants came in second for the Blanco Pro Cycling Team and
Italian Davide Cimolai of Lampre-Merida came in third.

Wiggins had been part of the peloton after just under 50km of the final leg
of a four-day tour around the Balearic Isle before deciding to withdraw
despite appearing not to have suffered any type of injury or accident.

The Englishman had struggled on his first outings of the 2013 season,
finishing 161st and 152nd from the 178 strong peloton on the first two days of
the challenge.

However, the four-time Olympic gold medallist had rebounded on the third
stage between Deia and Lluc where he led by nearly a minute after 115km of the
150km race before being overhauled by a nine-strong breakaway pack that
included teammate Sergio Henao and the eventual winner Alejandro Valverde.

Swift though had been in much better form as he made the podium with a
third-place finish in Sunday┬┤s stage and had another top-10 finish the
following day.

The 25-year-old had seemed well-placed for the final sprint once more as
the riders made their descent towards Playa de Muro before crashing out.

Team Sky announced via their Twitter page that Swift had been taken to
hospital as a precautionary measure.