UPDATED: Team Sky have this evening anounced that an infection responsible for claiming the life of 43-year-old soigneur Txema Gonzalez, who died in hospital in Seville today, is not related to the mystery illness that has swept through the squad at the Vuelta a Espana, causing three riders to abandon the race.
In a statement published this evening on the Team Sky website, Team Principal Dave Brailsford said: "We are devastated to report that Txema tragically passed away on Friday evening in hospital in Seville. His close family were with him."
The British ProTour outfit's Head of Medical, Dr Steve Peters, said: "Txema contracted a bacterial infection which entered the bloodstream and developed into sepsis.
"The toxins from this had damaged the organs in his body and he went into septic shock and unfortunately succumbed to that.
He explained that the infection which claimed the life of the soigneur was unrelated to the mystery virus that has caused three team members to abandon the Vuelta and has affected several others, saying: "I should also clarify that this bacterial infection has nothing to do with the viral infection which many of the team have suffered with in Spain, causing stomach upset."
Brailsford added: "Txema will be remembered as a warm-hearted colleague who was a joy to work with and was universally respected by our team and throughout the pro cycling scene. Our thoughts are with his family and friends."
According to a statement earlier todayon the Vuelta’s official website, "The Spanish masseur Txema Gonzalez has died in a hospital in Seville, where he was transported from virtually the start of the Tour of Spain as a result of a viral illness from which he could not recover.”
The statement said that González had worked previously worked for Euskaltel-Euskadi and Saunier Duval.
The statement continued: “Team Sky have suffered since the beginning of the race from a viral illness that has affected not only its riders, but also one of the members of the backroom staff.”
Ben Swift, John-Lee Augustyn and, today, Juan Antonio Flecha have all abandoned the race as a result of that virus, and according to the Vuelta statement, “from the beginning it was discovered that Txema was worst affected" - although it's clear from what Team Sky are now saying that the two unfortunate cases of illness are wholly unrelated.
The Vuelta organisers offered their condolences to “Txema’s many friends in the peloton and, of course, his family,” sentiments which we of course echo, and it is understood that a minute’s silence will be observed in his memory prior to the start of tomorrow’s stage.
Team Sky's Greg Henderson, who isn't racing in the Vuelta, said on Twitter: "RIP Txema. Speechless. Such a shock. Such a sad occasion. He is the nicest guy you can ever hope to meet. Thoughts go out to family."
Born in Scotland, Simon moved to London aged seven and now lives in the Oxfordshire Cotswolds with his miniature schnauzer, Elodie. He fell in love with cycling one Saturday morning in 1994 while living in Italy when Milan-San Remo went past his front door. A daily cycle commuter in London back before riding to work started to boom, he's been news editor at road.cc since 2009. Handily for work, he speaks French and Italian. He doesn't get to ride his Colnago as often as he'd like, and freely admits he's much more adept at cooking than fettling with bikes.