Fabian Cancellara (Trek Factory Racing) will return to competitive action at the Vuelta a España, a little over six weeks on from fracturing two vertebrae in his lower back following his crash on stage 3 of the Tour de France while wearing the yellow jersey of race leader.
It was Cancellara’s second time sustaining such injuries this season, as a crash at E3 Harelbeke in late March ended his Classics campaign prematurely. On that occasion, Cancellara waited fully two months before resuming competition, but with the World Championships in Richmond in mind, he was eager to return to the peloton quickly.
“The initial plan was to return to racing at the Eneco Tour next week,” Cancellara said in a statement released by his Trek Factory Racing team. “But it’s too early. I'm still experiencing some pain when I’m doing high intensity, even though I have been training since more than a week with training rides of up to four hours. I’d love to race already, but my body is just not ready yet.”
The Vuelta a España gets underway in Marbella on August 22. The Spanish race has been a staple of Cancellara’s programme in recent seasons as part of his build-up to the World Championships. He has missed out on the event just once since 2009 – when he was recovering from injury in 2012 – and will use the race to prepare for this year’s Worlds.
“I’ll be at the start of the Vuelta for the seventh time now. It’s a race that I like: lots of kilometers, hard racing, good roads and fans that appreciate our sport,” Cancellara said. “Above all I want to get back into the habit of racing and help our leaders, starting with the team time trial in Marbella. I want to be as good as I can at the Worlds. I’ll suffer to get through the first week, but I need competition."
With his retirement provisionally pencilled in for the end of next season, Cancellara could have just two opportunities left to add the Worlds road race to his palmarès. Four times a world champion in the time trial, he eschewed the event in Ponferrada a year ago in order to focus fully on the road race, but his challenge was compromised by cramps on the final lap.