Ivan Basso, the Italian cyclist announces that he was diagnosed with testicular cancer and has been ruled out of the Tour de France halfway through the competition.
The 37-year-old, who races for Russian-owned Tinkoff-Saxo as a teammate of former champion Alberto Contador, announced his withdrawal shortly after receiving the diagnosis.
"For a few days I felt a small pain," he said in Pau, France, the site of the tour's first rest day. "Yesterday our doctor spoke with the doctor of the Tour and we decided to go to make a special analysis to the hospital."
"The examination gave me bad news; I have a small cancer in the left testicle," he said.
Basso suffered from a minor crash in which his left testicle was slightly injured during stage five of the Tour de France. The pain persisted and a lump was discovered. Following further examination at the hospital in Pau, the presence of a tumor was confirmed.
"We never imagined such a thing would happen. Ivan's health is the absolute priority and he has to undergo all the necessary tests to find the best solution. I'd like to stress that the entire team will give its best in order to get the yellow jersey and enjoy it in Paris with him," said Contador, his teammate.
Well wishers flooded Twitter with messages of support for Basso, most notably cylcing stars including testicular cancer survivors Markel Irizar and Lance Armstrong -- who famously conquered the disease at age 25, despite catching it in its third stage.