World time trial champion Bert Grabsch has decided to call a halt to his Vuelta a Espana campaign and will not take the start today in Talavera de la Reina. The Columbia HTC rider told Cyclingnews after Wednesday’s stage that he has opted to head home, recover from the race and complete his preparation for his title defence.
“I will stop today. In one week the world championship [time trial] will take place,” he said. “I will need three days to recover and then I will prepare for the worlds.”
Grabsch was the surprise winner of the gold medal in Varese last year, beating Candaian Svein Tuft by 42.79 seconds and American champion Dave Zabristie by 55.27 seconds. He has done a lot of riding for Columbia in recent days but says that he feels he has done things in the right way. “I am happy, things are not so bad. I am not that tired and so I m very optimistic,” he said.
Grabsch was only 11th in the Vuelta prologue in Assen, but then improved to third in the longer Valencia test. Both of those were won by Fabian Cancellara (Saxo Bank), who chose to exit the Vuelta several days ago. The big Swiss rider is sure to be a major rival in Mendrisio, yet Grabsch feels he has made a good decision to persist longer with the Spanish Tour rather than follow others’ example.
“Each person has their own ideal preparation,” he said. “I did it two years ago [retire at the same point from the Vuelta] and I was not so bad. Anyway, I need some racing and it is only one week at home. For me that is the best preparation.”
Olympic time trial champion Cancellara missed the chance to defend his world title last season. This time around, he’s back and he wants to net the Elite TT rainbow jersey for the third time.
“I think he’s the main rival,” said Grabsch. “He, Wiggins and me should be there [fighting it out]. I will try to win again but if that is not possible, I will be happy to get a medal. This is my opportunity.”
Several other worlds contenders did not start Wednesday’s stage. These included Damiano Cunego and last year’s champion Alessandro Ballan, both of whom will focus on the road race.
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