Madrid, Spain – Spain's Samuel Sanchez will not defend his title in the men's cycling road race at the London Olympics.
Sanchez has not sufficiently recovered from injuries he sustained a few weeks ago during the Tour de France. During stage 8 on July 8, Sanchez crashed and suffered fractures to a finger on his right hand and his left shoulder. The injuries forced him to abandon the race.
According to a release from his professional team, Euskaltel Euskadi, Sanchez underwent to training sessions to evaluate his injuries. The release said that his injuries could not withstand the demands of an Olympic road race, in particular his right hand.
Sanchez called it the "most painful decision" he has made in some time.
"I am the Olympic champion and I wish to defend a medal that changed my life," Sanchez said. "After that victory, I have a street with my name, a life size statue reflects the time when I bit the medal ... It was a very significant victory."
The 34-year-old added that he was sad not to defend his title, but he could possibly endanger himself or other riders if he were to compete.
Sanchez took the gold medal in Beijing four years ago, when he won a sprint out of a small group of contenders.
He is the second major Spanish athlete to pull out of the Olympics. Rafael Nadal, the 2008 men's Olympic tennis gold medalist, also withdrew from the games because of physical problems.