MILAN (VN) — The British team is running out of gas before the UCI Road World Championships begin this weekend. Geraint Thomas pulled the plug after a long season and Mark Cavendish crashed in the Tour of Britain, which could force him to call off his trip to Richmond, Virginia.
The classics rider/sprinter combination could be the winning formula for the 259.2-kilometer road race on September 27. Germany will employ Milano-Sanremo and Paris-Roubaix winner John Degenkolb (Giant-Alpecin) and sprinter deluxe André Greipel of Lotto-Soudal.
Great Britain named a similar team featuring Sky’s Thomas and Etixx-Quick-Step’s Cavendish last week, but soon after, plans changed.
Thomas wrote on Facebook that the 2015 season ran too long for him and that he needed a break after a grueling race schedule that included the classics, Tour de France, and the Vuelta a España.
“It’s been a hard decision to make, but the season has taken its toll on me and I don’t feel physically up for a good worlds,” Thomas wrote. “I don’t want to go there just to make up the numbers, I’d want to be competitive or at least do a good job for the boys.
“I love racing for GB and the worlds are a really special race so it was a difficult decision to make, along with the team, but I feel it’s best to rest up now before its all systems go for a big year next year.”
2015 has been the best season of Thomas’ career. The 29-year-old Welshman won E3 Harelbeke and placed third in Gent-Wevelgem. In stage races, he won the Volta ao Algarve, placed fifth in Paris-Nice, was second in the Tour de Suisse, and rode in fourth place overall before cracking in the Tour de France. In the Tour, of course, he also helped teammate Chris Froome win.
The three-week Vuelta should have tuned Thomas’ engine for the worlds, but instead it caused it to overheat.
Thomas told VeloNews at the Vuelta, “I’ve taken it up a level this year and been better from Algarve all the way through Paris-Nice, the classics, Suisse, the Tour… After the Tour, I took it easy mentally as well as physically, and shut down a bit.”
A crash last week, meanwhile, caused Cavendish to second-guess his trip to Virginia. The 2011 world champion ran into a parked car during the Tour of Britain on Friday and fell on his left shoulder.
He told The Telegraph this week he has been unable to train in recent days.
“I really don’t know,” Cavendish said. “I’ll make a decision [on whether to go to Richmond] on Friday.
“I had an X-ray which showed it wasn’t broken. It wasn’t hanging off like last year [after the Tour crash]. But it’s worse than I feared.”
Froome ended his season after breaking his foot in the Vuelta a España, but his attendance in Richmond was never certain.
The British team will still travel to the U.S. with a strong squad. Ian Stannard, who won Omloop Het Nieuwsblad this year, and Luke Rowe will fill the classics rider slots, while Ben Swift will lead the team in an eventual sprint.