The Omega Pharma-Quick Step team has confirmed that Mark Cavendish will not ride this year's Giro d'Italia and instead will prepare for the Tour de France by riding the Amgen Tour of California and the Tour de Suisse.
Cavendish is targeting the first stage of the Tour de France but has suffered with illness since Milan-San Remo. He will ride the Tour of Turkey (April 27-May 4) before heading to the USA.
"As everybody knows, my big goal this year is the Tour de France. Especially as it starts in my native country. My program is shaped for that moment," Cavendish said in a statement from the OPQS team.
"This year I will skip the Giro d'Italia. I'm saddened as it's a race that has given me great satisfaction in the past. I have great memories and victories, even last year. But, with the Tour de France as my main objective this year, we had to make some choices."
"I'm sure passing through the Tour of Turkey, and a great, well organized race like Tour of California will get me in shape and ready for the Tour de Suisse, which will be my final tune-up for the Tour de France."
Cavendish will be joined by frequent training partner and lead out man Alessandro Petacchi at the Tour of Turkey, while the veteran Italian will ride the Giro d'Italia with Rigoberto Uran the team leader for the first Grand Tour of the season.
Cavendish won five stages and the red points jersey at the 2013 Giro d'Italia. However finishing the three-week race left him jaded for the Tour de France. He still won two stages in France but Marcel Kittel (Giant-Shimano) emerged as the most successful sprinter of the Tour de France, winning four stages, including the first in Olbia to take the yellow jersey, and the final sprint on the Champs Elysees in Paris.
Development Manager Rolf Aldag explained the reasons why Omega Pharma-Quick Step has opted to have Cavendish ride the Amgen Tour of California and the Tour de Suisse rather than the Giro d'Italia.
"With the sickness Mark had, we had to reshape his calendar a little bit. It's a shame because Mark showed how strong he was at Milano-San Remo. He could have taken advantage of his condition during the period immediately after that race. But, it is what it is and now we have rebuilt the best approach for Cavendish heading into the Tour," he said.
"Cav is now training in Italy and will be back at Tour of Turkey with a good, strong team around him. With Tour of Turkey we will open the second part of his season that culminates with the Tour de France."