Mark Cavendish (HTC-Columbia) failed to finish the Ruta del Sol stage race but is just happy his 2010 season is underway after some painful dental problems wrecked his January training and planned debut at the Tour of Qatar.
Cavendish was part of a big group of riders who failed to finish the rain-soaked last hilly stage to Antequera on Thursday. He was in good company, with time trial winner Alex Rasmussen (Saxo Bank) and 18 other riders climbing off. Only 61 riders finished.
Cavendish's teammate Michael Rogers won overall after a strong ride in the stage four time trial.
Speaking to the Independent newspaper, Cavendish admitted his dental problems had been more painful than anything he suffered on the bike. He is set to wear a dental brace for the next 12 months.
"It's over now and my condition's improving fast but it was the worst pain I've ever felt, it hurt so much I was crying like a baby," Cavendish told the Independent.
"Once I had a wisdom tooth out without anaesthetic, this was more painful. The infection killed the nerve on one tooth and another had to be taken out. There was one point where to swab it they had to cut it with a knife. The truth is that I wouldn't wish the pain I felt on anybody."
While Cavendish has been suffering, his rivals have been racing and winning. However with Cavendish targeting the green jersey at the Tour de France and then the world championships in Australia in September, a slower start to the season could play to his advantage.
"What happened could end up being a blessing in disguise as it'll force me to come into form later than planned. It's a long season. Andalucia is only the starting point," he said.
Cavendish's next race is expected to be the Strade Bianche race on the Eroica dirt roads in Tuscany on March 6, followed by Tirreno-Adriatico and Milan-San Remo.