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Gilbert quits the Vuelta a Espana during stage 15

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Philippe Gilbert (BMC) pops the cork on a fine day's work

Philippe Gilbert (BMC) pops the cork on a fine day's work
(Image credit: Bettini Photo)
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Philippe Gilbert (BMC) heads to the start of stage 13

Philippe Gilbert (BMC) heads to the start of stage 13
(Image credit: Fotoreporter Sirotti)
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The experienced Baden Cooke will have plenty of knowledge to hand down to the youngsters of the GreenEdge team

The experienced Baden Cooke will have plenty of knowledge to hand down to the youngsters of the GreenEdge team
(Image credit: Shane Goss/licoricegallery.com)
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With the opening stage win, Luke Rowe (Team Sky) gets the yellow Tour of Britain leader's jersey

With the opening stage win, Luke Rowe (Team Sky) gets the yellow Tour of Britain leader's jersey
(Image credit: Rob Lampard)

World champion Philippe Gilbert (BMC) has decide not to endanger his chances at the world championships later this month and has abandoned the Vuelta a Espana during Sunday's stage to Peyragudes, following a day of “hell” on Saturday.

The BMC rider got off his bike 60km into the stage, which was once again being run in rain and cold temperatures. He had told Sportwereld that Saturday's stage “was hell from start to finish”. He was in the break of the day with eventual winner Daniele Ratto (Cannondale) but was dropped in the finale and caught by race leader Vincenzo Nibali in the final kilometres of the stage.

"It was extremely cold yesterday and I was still a little bit cold this morning, so I didn't want to risk anything for the Worlds," Gilbert said. "I also decided before [starting the Vuelta] that I was only doing two weeks – and if it was perfect, a little bit more. So it's not a surprise for me and the team."

Gilbert's Vuelta a Espana campaign was highlighted by his sprint victory on the 12th stage of the race last week -his first win of the 2013 season and his first as world champion.

The weather is again wet and cold in the Pyrenees as the Vuelta heads into France, sparking several other retirements during the stage. Luke Rowe (Team Sky) and Baden Cooke (Orica-GreenEdge) have also abandoned the 15th stage. Vacansoleil-DCM's Thomas Marczynski became ill over night and did not start.