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Vuelta a Espana

Boonen, Cancellara, Gesink all leave Vuelta

Boonen and Cancellara are concentrating on the upcoming worlds, while Gesink has a family emergency to deal with

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A ESTRADA, Spain (VN) — Three major players have left the Vuelta a España: Fabian Cancellara (Trek Factory Racing) and Tom Boonen (Omega Pharma-Quick Step) to prepare for the world championships, and Robert Gesink (Belkin) for a family emergency.

Gesink was seventh overall going into the final stages, an important result for the Dutch all-rounder coming back from heart surgery, but family matters took precedent.

“My pregnant wife has undergone surgery twice this past week. Her situation has not improved and she is still in the hospital,” Gesink said in a team release. “I will immediately leave the Vuelta to be with my family, who needs me right now.”

Gesink had already hinted at problems when he said he could not fully concentrate during last week’s individual time trial at Borja.

Boonen and Cancellara, meanwhile, leave the Vuelta after honing their respective form ahead of the upcoming road cycling world championships in Ponferrada, Spain, later this month.

Boonen said he’s raced a lot, with the Eneco Tour and nearly three weeks at the Vuelta, and that it’s time to recover for the worlds.

“I am happy about what I did at La Vuelta. Everything went as planned. I raced eight days at Eneco Tour and then I did La Vuelta up until today, so that’s 25 days of competition out of 31 days. It was a hard grand tour, but now it is time to recover,” Boonen said in a team release. “I will keep my body moving in these next days, but without intensity. My condition is very good at the moment. I tried to contest a few stages at La Vuelta. I was also in two breakaways, I worked for [Rigoberto] Urán, and I even passed mountains without problems. A guy with my kind of build needs a little bit more time than climbers to recover from these kinds of efforts.”

The 2005 world champion also said he hopes to compete in the team time trial event the weekend before the road race in Ponferrada.

“After the stop of Urán, to me, it’s better to focus on recovery and then be ready to play a role at worlds, starting with the team time trial. I can’t wait to be a part of this race again,” Boonen said. “I had great memories of the victory we had in 2012. It was an incredible feeling when you compare it with an individual victory. I’m happy to be part of it again and give my contribution to this team, and try to add to the total of the the OPQS TTT gold medals following the win of the guys last year.”

Boonen will be fighting for a leadership role at the deep Belgian squad that also includes former world champion Philippe Gilbert and Greg Van Avermaet.

Cancellara, meanwhile, sprinted to third in Wednesday’s stage behind winner John Degenkolb (Giant-Shimano), an encouraging sign that he’s coming into strong form for Ponferrada.

Cancellara has already renounced his intentions to race the world time trial race despite a strong performance at the Vuelta, when he was second (later penalized seven seconds for drafting to drop him to third) behind three-time defending world TT champ Tony Martin (Omega Pharma).

Instead of trying to win a fifth world TT title, Cancellara is going all-in to be as fresh and ready as possible for the elite men’s road race.