Cavendish facing six weeks out as surgery deemed necessary

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Mark Cavendish faces a long period of time away from racing after it was confirmed that he will undergo surgery today on the shoulder he injured on stage one of the Tour de France.

The British sprinter suffered a separated shoulder in the crash, which occurred when he and Orica-GreenEdge’s Simon Gerrans collided within sight of the finish line.

Cavendish later apologised, saying that he went for a gap that wasn’t there.

Omega Pharma-Quick Step team doctor Helge Riepenhof explained the time Cavendish will be out of action on Sunday, prior to a decision being made about an operation.

“If he needs surgery, it will be a minimum of six weeks. If it is okay without, it will be a minimum of four weeks. But it is very likely he will need surgery,” he said then.

He said that it looked very likely Cavendish had suffered a grade three luxation, the most serious degree of that type of injury.

Given the severity of the accident, he was asked why it took the team until Sunday morning to announce that Cavendish would not continue. “He needed time to accept it,” he said. “Cavendish, being in England, wanted to try everything to be able to start. It took a while until we convinced him that this was the right thing to do. Finally we told him he can’t race with this, and he accepted it. But it took time.”

He said that the rider was very sad not to continue. “We had a similar situation seven years ago when he did his first Tour de France. It was also in England and he was also incredibly disappointed.

“He is really, really sad, because he wanted to be good here. He wanted to show that he is ready to win stages in his home country. Even if he looks alright now, he is really sad. He wants to race, but can’t.”

After his surgery, Cavendish will go to the BG hospital in Hamburg and work on his rehab there. Dr. Riepenhof said that there was a wide range of equipment there to help athletes to recover from injury; for example, he stated that the choices include an exercise bike in a pool in order to enable patients to pedal without having to support their body weight.

Cavendish’s upcoming period of time off the bike makes it extremely unlikely he will compete in the Commonwealth Games. Dr. Riepenhof said that the Vuelta a España might be an option, though.

“Time wise this is possible. It depends if this is one of the goals,” he told CyclingTips.

Longer term, he said that the shoulder issue was unlikely to impede Cavedish during the remainder of his career. “There is never 100 percent after injury. But he will be able to sprint and to do his job,” he said. “You can train all these things.

“After every injury always a little bit stays, but you would not say this will have a significant effect on his performance.”

Listen to the audio clip above for a full interview with Dr. Riepenhof

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