Race leaders José Antonio Hermida and Ralph Näf have been forced to pull out of the Andalucia Bike Race due to injury.
The duo registered back-to-back victories on stages one and two but Swiss rider Näf, suffering from back pain, is unable to continue.
“Yesterday we were already a little bit conservative as Ralph was suffering those problems in his back,” said cross-country world champion Hermida. “But far from disappearing, they have become worse and they have started to affect his right leg.
“We have had to slow down the pace and even stop a few times; this has taken us to lose a lot of minutes in the overall.
“It is a pity, as it is always nice to win, even more in a new competition that has attracted people of very high level.
“But the most important thing is to take care of the rider’s health and Ralph must get to the World Cups in good shape. A problem like his might not be critical in a two-hour race, but the ABR is a very demanding six-day adventure.”
Hermida, who has vowed to return in 2012, added: “We have ridden endless single track where the bike just flows. This area is full of them. It is a great place for mountain biking, regardless of the level of the rider, and with a great temperature at this time of the year.”