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Although Mark Cavendish recently returned to racing after his shoulder injury sustained at the Tour de France, the Briton’s Omega Pharma-QuickStep team has decided that he will have an alternative race programme to the Vuelta a España.
The Belgian squad announced the lineup for the latter race on Monday, with that squad being oriented around Giro d’Italia runner-up Rigoberto Uran. He will be joined by former world champion Tom Boonen — who missed the Tour and will use the Spanish race as part of his preparation for Ponferrada 2014 — multiple world TT champion Tony Martin, Wout Poels, Gianluca Brambilla, Pieter Serry, Martin Velits, Nikolas Maes and first-time Grand Tour rider Carlos Verona.
“The team is built up around Rigoberto Uran, who will get full support from his teammates,” said the team’s Sport and Development Manager Rolf Aldag Monday. “During the Giro d’Italia Rigoberto proved he has the skills for the major tours, so he deserves the support of the team. His approach to the race was similar to the one set in motion for the Giro d’Italia.”
He also defined what Boonen and Martin’s roles would be. “Tom’s leadership will be an important figure in the flat stages and in bunch sprint arrivals in which we want to stand out with his dashes,” he continued. “La Vuelta will also be important for him as he prepares for the Worlds.
“Tony will make La Vuelta an important part of his World Championship build up. He will target the opening team time trial and the long individual time trial to test his shape. In the other stages he will serve as support in the overall team strategy.”
It had been thought by some that Cavendish might ride the race but instead the team has laid out an alternative schedule for him. He will do the Tour du Poitou Charentes, running from August 26 to 29, then the Tour of Britain. The latter race starts September 7 and lasts until September 14.
“Mark has proven that he’s worked very hard since his crash at the Tour de France,” said Aldag. “Just six weeks after his injury, he took part in the Tour de l’Ain and worked as an important supporting rider to his teammates, even though obviously he is understandably not yet back to 100% condition. We really appreciated Mark’s behaviour and his desire to get back into racing as soon as possible.
“Now the Team believe that Mark needs a further intermediate step, which will be the Poitou Charents, in order get some more competition kilometres into his legs and continue his progress of gradual re-entry into competition. After the short French stage race, the plan is for Mark to line up for the start of the Tour of Britain with the aim of definitively rediscovering his race feeling by competing and trying to get good results.”
Cavendish said that the Tour de l’Ain was “not an easy” race for him as his shoulder is continuing to give him bother. However he said that it is getting stronger each day. His and the team’s thinking is that a steady and progressive buildup will work well to help him get back on track.
“Now the next step is another shorter stage race at Poitou Charentes,” he said. “We will continue to monitor my condition week by week; as things stand it’s impossible to know how I’ll be feeling each week considering the severity of the injury and the accelerated recovery time.”
He added that the chance to race in front of British fans was a big attraction for him, and that he will try to ride strongly. “My goal there will be to do the best I possibly can, depending on the condition I’m in.”