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Joaquin Rodriguez (Katusha) back in red at the Vuelta a España.
Plaza to ride road race as Gutierrez called up for TT
Joaquin Rodriguez (Katusha) has withdrawn from the Spanish team for the world championships in Australia. He will be replaced in the line-up by Ruben Plaza (Caisse d'Epargne), who had previously been named to race the time trial event. Plaza's switch to the road team has seen his teammate Ivan Gutierrez earn a late call-up to ride the time trial and act as reserve for the road team.
"I was very excited about going to the Worlds but I've had a very full season," Rodriguez said on the Spanish Federation's website. "I've endured a lot of physical and especially mental strain at the Vuelta a España. In order to be honest with myself and my colleagues, I have to do what is right for the team and leave my place to a rider who can do better than me."
The Catalan wore the leader's red jersey into the Vuelta's final time trial, where he lost significant time on his rivals. He ultimately went on to finish the race in 4th place overall. Nonetheless, Rodriguez's Vuelta performance should be sufficient to see him top the UCI's individual rankings come the end of the season.
"It's quite a blow," Spanish manager José Luis De Santos said. "We're talking about a rider who is the world number one and has great experience in this type of event and he also contributes to a good atmosphere in the team."
De Santos had no qualms about adding Gutierrez to his time trial selection at such short notice. "He hasn't done any specific time trial training but I don't think it's necessary," De Santos explained. "At the races in Canada he showed himself to be in good moment of form and that's the most important thing."