Updated: Fever forces Cavendish scratch at Gent-Wevelgem

Former world champion may miss Sunday's sprinter-friendly classic after falling ill Friday morning

HARELBEKE, Belgium (VN) — Mark Cavendish (Omega Pharma-Quick Step) is a question mark for Sunday’s Gent-Wevelgem after coming down with a fever.

On Friday morning Cavendish wrote on Twitter, “Just got out of bed after 18 hours with fever. Woke up this morning in a pool of sweat.”

Team officials confirmed Friday that the former world champion might not be able to start. [Update: Team officials confirmed later Friday that Cavendish would not take the start.]

“That’s a pity, because I think the race on Sunday would be really good for him. We will see in these coming days,” sport director Tom Steels told reporters at E3 Harelbeke Friday. “For sure it’s not [ideal] to have a fever. I think the race from Milano-Sanremo took a lot out of the riders.”

Gent-Wevelgem is a major target for Cavendish, whose classics campaign also included a late-hour inclusion of Milano-Sanremo, where he rode to fifth, and GP Scheldeprijs.

Steels said there was no conflict between Cavendish and classics leader Tom Boonen in a race such as Wevelgem. Boonen has won it three times, while Cavendish has never won the Belgian semi-classic.

“There is always room, especially in a race like Gent, when 85 percent of the race are on big roads,” said Steels, who won Gent-Wevelgem in 1996 and 1999. “The winds are always the biggest enemy, because the climbs, they both can survive, so if the group splits, there are still flats for the final kilometers straight into Wevelgem, all on big roads, so if it’s a sprint, it’s perfect for Mark.”

Steels confirmed that Matteo Trentin, who was also ill after the cold and rainy Milano-Sanremo, would start Gent-Wevelgem on Sunday.