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Mark Cavendish has said that in addition to regaining lost sharpness when he returns to racing, that there is a possibility that it will also take some time to get back his nerves in terms of sprinting at the end of pro races.
The Briton crashed hard on the opening stage of the Tour de France but confirmed on Monday that he had been able to go training on the road and is thus getting over his separated shoulder injury.
He is not yet sure when he will be able to return to competition but, when he does, he admitted that it could take some time to adjust again to the nervous battles which take place at the end of races.
“We will have to see when I get racing,” he said, responding to a CyclingTips question about what can be a tough road back. “It does take a bit of time, even with my other crashes. I haven’t had the injuries that I have got now, but it definitely does knock your confidence for a little while.”
Four time Tour green jersey winner Sean Kelly told CyclingTips that a big fall can be difficult for sprinters to handle.
“Cavendish has had a lot of good spills, but he never broke anything, never did damage. It will be interesting with this one. Will it take his confidence away? Will he be a bit more scared? Sometimes when you break something it can be a difficult one for the rest of your career.
“You back off a bit because you are bit more scared in the sprint.”
Cavendish said that he was determined to not let that affect him, but rather to knuckle down and try to get over it as soon as possible.
“It is part and parcel of being not just a sprinter but a bike rider,” he said, accepting the risk. “You crash, you get injuries. That is all part of the job, so you have to try to get on with it.”
Cavendish flew to France in order to take part in his Omega Pharma-Quick Step team’s rest day press and fan meeting. The get-together was held in part to publicise plans to rename the team Etixx-Quick Step, and Cavendish’s attendance was something appreciated by Omega Pharma CEO Marc Coucke. “Thank you very much for coming along, Mark,” he said, shaking his hand. “It’s great you could make it here today.”
His team-mates also seemed appreciative; midway through a ten minute media interview slot [see video], Matteo Trentin and Michal Kwiatkowski briefly interrupted holding a microphone and video camera respectively. “Your team really misses you here,” smiled Trentin, who engaged in a mock interview for 30 seconds or so.
Cavendish said that he has been working hard on his recovery, undergoing surgery on his shoulder and then doing intense physiotherapy on the Isle of Man. The latter has involved the use of a hyperbaric chamber, which he feels is speeding up the healing process.
He confirmed that he has been riding on an indoor bicycle and returned to riding on the road on Sunday.
“I think I can start to train, but the problem is if I crash, it would damage me. I had a grade 4 ligament tear, which was worse than they expected in the first days. I have had great people around me with my rehab. I will be talking with the team in these next days to see what my programme is.
“I don’t know how long it will be until I am racing. I just got back on the road yesterday on my bike. Obviously I can’t be competing seriously until I can be guaranteed that there is no more shoulder damage.”
As a result he said that it is too soon to say if he will be doing the Vuelta a España. However he is determined to get back as soon as it is safe to do so, particularly as his racing programme this year was relatively light in order to arrive fresh to the Tour de France. He feels he should repay his team for their backing.
“I think I am in a great situation that I have the support that I have from my team, and I have had an easyish year so far. I have to finish the season strong to honour my team and to honour the faith they have put in me.
“I want to do that properly, I don’t want to just be riding around. I don’t want to crash and damage my shoulder even further.”
In the video above Cavendish discusses a range of topics, including the team’s performance in the Tour since he left, his recovery, his reported annoyance with comments from Alexander Kristoff and his prior consideration of taking a legal case over the matter.
He also shows remarkable restraint when questioned provocatively by a journalist about comparisons with the controversial footballer Luis Suárez.