Cavendish withdraws from Vuelta, worlds preparation disrupted
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Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Cavendish withdraws from Vuelta, worlds preparation disrupted

by Shane Stokes at 11:19 AM EST   comments
Categories: Pro Cycling, Vuelta a España, World Championships
Past ten world champions used Spanish Tour to prepare

Mark CavendishMark Cavendish’s chance of taking the world road race title received a setback today when the HTC Highroad rider withdrew from the Vuelta a España. The British sprinter was in trouble early on during the first big mountain stage of the race, a difficult 172 kilometre race from Baza to the summit of the Sierra Nevada, was dropped on the Puerto de los Blancares climb and then called it quits approximately 40 kilometres from the line.

Cavendish had a tough time yesterday, finishing almost 13 minutes back. He remarked about the difficulty of the course on twitter afterwards. “Well if the last climb today was only Category 3, then I can safely say this Vuelta is going to be SAVAGE.”

The reason for his withdrawal today is not fully clear. His team-mate Matt Goss pulled out two days ago due to stomach problems, but there were no indications that Cavendish had the same issue. He recently won the Olympic test event in London and had hoped to use the Vuelta to prepare for the world championships in Copenhagen. He said recently that this year's worlds would be his best chance to take the rainbow jersey; few championship courses are flat enough to come down to big bunch sprints.

The past ten world champions used the Vuelta a España to prepare for the race, with the event giving the best possible workout. Several withdrew before the end but with the traditional one week gap now extended to two weeks, it was anticipated that most of those vying to the world title would race right through until the finish in Madrid.

Cavendish has other options to prepare for the worlds, including the Tour of Britain. He will however need a green light from the Vuelta organisers and the UCI to do so, due to UCI rule 2.6.026. It states that, “a rider dropping out of the race may not compete in any other cycling events for the duration of the stage race that he abandoned, on pain of a 15 day suspension and a fine of CHF 200 to 1,000. For major tours, the event directors and the commissaires panel jointly may, however, grant exceptions at the request of a rider and with the agreement of his team manager.”

It is thought likely that he will get that dispensation, particularly as his sprinting rival Tyler Farrar (Garmin-Cervélo) was recently able to withdraw from the Eneco Tour in order to take part in the Olympic test event.

However, even so, he may find it difficult to get the same degree of buildup for the worlds away from the Vuelta.

The last rider to win the worlds without riding the Tour of Spain is Romans Vainsteins, who triumphed in Plouay in 2000. The more recent champions all either finished the Vuelta or did a significant portion of the race.

Cavendish will hope to buck that trend, although he’d clearly prefer to have gone further in this Tour of Spain.


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