Fabian Cancellara (Trek Factory Racing) has become the latest big-name rider to abandon this year’s Tour de France as he looks to rest and re-build form for the World Championships.
Cancellara follows team-mates Andy Schleck, the 2010 champion, and Danny van Poppel in leaving the Tour – though both were forced to quit after crashing – but the Swiss rider believes the team remains in good shape.
“The season has been long for me, starting back in Dubai,” he said. “I have done 59 days of competition this season so far and I have another big goal at the end of this season: the World Championships.
“It’s not a secret that I’d like to be in my best shape there, so it’s important that I take some rest.
“It’s been good to be back in the Tour. We lost Andy and Danny early on, but the team is strong and will keep on looking for opportunities.”
Cancellara was among the favourites for the cobbled stage five, but having spent much of the race in the yellow jersey group could not match the accelerations of race leader Vincenzo Nibali and eventual stage winner Lars Boom on the final two secteurs.
He also narrowly missed out on victory on stage one in Harrogate – a result which would have earned him a 29th career yellow jersey – as he launched an audacious late attack in the final kilometre.
And Cancellara says he departs this year’s Tour pleased with his efforts on the first ten days.
“It was not only about the cobblestones stage for me,” he said. “The course for this year’s Tour is very attractive for a rider of my profile, I liked it.
“There were many opportunities and with a little more luck, I could have gone home with a result in the pocket.”
General manager Luca Guercilena added: “We brought Fabian to the Tour to be a factor where his skills allowed it and he didn’t disappoint.
“He’s a rider that always comes to a race to give everything – if you just look at how he was working for Fränk Schleck yesterday, at 20 km from the finish in a mountain stage.
“Now he gets a short break and then we will build up his condition again to be at his best in Ponferrada.”