Mark Cavendish (HTC-Columbia) is slated to begin his 2010 campaign on Sunday at the Ruta del Sol after an abscessed tooth postponed a planned start at the Tour of Qatar.
The British sprinter underwent heavy antibiotic treatments and visits to the dentist that kept him off the bike, but team officials aren’t too worried about the delay.
“He had the infection in his tooth and we had to be careful, because if you overdo it, it can even infect the muscle of the heart and that can be very dangerous,” Rolf Aldag told VeloNews. “With the Tour de France and the world championships being the most important goals of the season, maybe having him start the season a little later could be even better.”
Cavendish’s tooth problem first appeared during the team’s training camp in January on Mallorca, prompting an unexpected disruption in his training and preparation. He went to the dentist twice and started taking antibiotics, forcing him to miss an important block of training.
“He needed to recover before he could start work on the bike again.
He’s now had some good basic training and, this week, he’s been working on his speed with some motor-pacing training,” Aldag said. “We don’t expect him to be at his best at Ruta del Sol, because there have been other riders who have already been racing in Australia or Qatar.
There’s no pressure for him.”
Aldag said he doesn’t expect the delay to have major impact on the first season goal at Milan-San Remo and the other spring classics.
The team wants Cavendish in peak form in July to make a run for the green jersey and then again for Australia for a shot at the rainbow jersey, so there’s no pressure on Cavendish in the opening months of the season.
“Getting some more racing kilometers will help, but it’s not super-critical. He already won Milan-San Remo and, of course, it would be nice to win it again,” he said. “Milan-San Remo is so hard to predict. It could be a breakaway or a late attack.”
Aldag also confirmed that Cavendish will race Ghent-Wevelgem, where the team has won with Marcus Burghardt and Edvald Boasson-Hagen, as well as Tour of Flanders, in part to gain some more experience on the cobblestones ahead of the Tour de France.
Aldag also said the team still hasn’t decided if Cavendish will race the Giro d’Italia or the Tour of California.