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by Shane Stokes
August 7, 2014
Just over one month after he crashed out on the opening stage of this year’s Tour de France, Mark Cavendish’s Omega Pharma Quick Step team have confirmed that he will return to competition next Tuesday in the Tour de l’Ain.
The British rider has opted for the French event over this Sunday’s Prudential Ride London Classic, deciding that completing a training block and then riding a stage race will serve better in order to build his fitness back up again.
“The Tour de l’Ain will be important to see where I am at with my training and recovery from my injury, and also as a bit of a test at competition pace,” stated Cavendish today.
“The rest of my program will be decided 100 percent after Tour de l’Ain depending on how I feel during that race. Together with the team we will then discuss how to approach the rest of my season. Tour de l’Ain will be the first time back in the peloton after the Tour.”
Cavendish had hoped to win on home soil, seeing the first stage of this year’s Tour as perhaps his best chance to pick up the yellow jersey of race leader. It finished in Harrogate, a village where Cavendish holidayed as a child, and had a special significance for him.
However he clashed with the Australian Simon Gerrans in the final sprint and hit the deck, suffering a separated shoulder. This forced him to drop out of the Tour de France on day one.
Cavendish had the chance to compete again on home soil in Sunday’s event, but the decision has been taken that the French stage race is a better option.
“Unfortunately I am not able to participate in Prudential Ride London Classic, which is an amazing race and I would have liked the opportunity to race next year. At the moment, with the two races being so close together on the calendar, I need to focus on completing my specific block of training in Italy before returning to competition at the Tour de l’Ain shortly after,” he explained.
He wished the riders well for the one day event and said that he would do his utmost to take part next season.
“I think it will be a wonderful event given the amazing support for cycling in the UK. I was so proud of what I saw from the public in the opening stage of the Tour and I wish I could be there to race in front of my British supporters.”
The 1.HC race will instead see the team represented by Alessandro Petacchi, Mark Renshaw, Andy Fenn, Gert Steegmans, Stijn Vandenbergh and Julian Alaphilippe.
The Omega Pharma-Quick Step lineup for the Tour de l’Ain has some overlap, with Alaphilippe also taking part. He will be joined by Cavendish, Gianni Meersman, Pieter Serry, Carlos Verona and Rigoberto Uran.
The latter is racing for the first time since he finished second overall in the Giro d’Italia. He will use the race as part of his build-up for the Tour of Spain.
“It’s no surprise Rigo is working in function of La Vuelta,” stated the directeur sportif Davide Bramati. “It will represent his first race in Europe since the Giro, and it will be an important step to get into the rhythm of racing again after long training at altitude.
“After this race Rigo will remain in Europe until racing begins in Spain. At Tour de l’Ain you can find a bit of everything. There will be a prologue, up and down stages for the climbers, and more. So, it’s the perfect race for many riders to open up the second part of the season.”
Cavendish is also listed to take part in the Vuelta a España, although the final determination of that will be how he fares in the Tour de l’Ain and subsequent events.
Also see: Cavendish: Is the Eddy Merckx Tour stage record still beatable?