After stage 15 to Almussafes, three riders are already known to drop out of La Vuelta prior to its last week of racing. Team CSC's Fabian Cancellara, Rabobank's Michael Boogerd and AG2R's Cyril Dessel will not take the start of the next stage following the rest day on Monday, as the riders are focusing on the World Championships instead.
"Long before the race started, we talked about me not going all the way to Madrid, as it's better for me to train on a time trial bike ahead of the World Championships," explained Cancellara. "Still it was a difficult decision to make. First of all there's been a great atmosphere among us down here, secondly all that hard work up front has been good for my form and last but not least I really wanted to help Carlos [Sastre] as much as I possibly could. The problem is that now there are so many mountains and I wouldn't be much help anyway."
Sports director Kim Andersen and the rest of the team supported Cancellara in his decision. "Fabian has worked really hard, but like he says the terrain over the next few days is probably not his thing, so it's the best solution."
Rabo rider Boogerd also left the race, staying on the Valencian coast instead of taking the plane down to Almeria with his teammates. "I could test myself here," said Boogerd, who will stay in Spain for a few more days to train, and to completely cure his bronchitis. "I don't feel super yet, but I confirmed to myself that the form is already good. I hope I will get better soon with these temperatures."
Frenchman Dessel, who wore the yellow jersey at the Tour de France earlier this year, had already planned to return to his country on the rest day to further prepare for the World's, too, and is taking a plane from Almeria today.