Omega Pharma-QuickStep manager Patrick Lefevere has hinted that Mark Cavendish will miss this year’s Giro d’Italia, although he told reporters that the full details of the Manxman’s build-up to the Tour de France will not be decided until they meet next week.
Cavendish has not missed the Giro d'Italia since 2010 and has made no secret of his affinity for the Italian race, but confessed that completing it last year had taken its toll ahead of the Tour de France. Cavendish won two stages but struggled to match Marcel Kittel's speed. The German won four stages including the final sprint on the Champs Elysees.
Lefevere acknowledged that the team also has a commercial interest in sending Cavendish to California, home of bike supplier Specialized, but said that he is more concerned about ensuring that his rider reaches the Tour de France on top form.
“When Mark starts a race, he very rarely abandons it. Last year he won five stages at the Giro because once he had a taste for winning he wanted to keep on going,” Lefevere said in Kortrijk.
“He went very deep last year to win those five stages and take the points jersey and so he didn’t recover well enough in time for the Tour. And we want to avoid that at all costs.”
Back in action at the Tour of Turkey
Cavendish has not raced since Milan-San Remo, where he finished fifth in the group sprint for the win. Since then, illness forced him out of Gent-Wevelgem and the Three Days of De Panne, while his team opted to hold him back from Scheldeprijs during the week.
“I was the one who told him to stay at home because if he’d gone to Scheldeprijs, it would have placed a certain pressure on the team and placed even more pressure on himself,” Lefevere explained.
Cavendish is set to return to competitive action at the Tour of Turkey (April 27 to May 4), before tackling either the Giro d'Italia or the Tour of California in May.
“After Roubaix we’ll have a little meeting,” Lefevere said. “It’s almost certain that he’ll do the Tour of Turkey and after that we’ll have to decide between the Tour of California and the Giro. If he doesn’t do the Giro, then he’ll do California and the Tour of Switzerland before the Tour.”
Cavendish last skipped the Giro d'Italia and raced the Tour of California and Tour of Switzerland in 2010, and subsequently went on to land five stages at that July’s Tour. This time around, of course, his primary objective is to win the opening stage on home roads in Harrogate and wear the yellow jersey for the first time in his career.
“If, as a British man, he can win the opening stage in Britain, then it’s certainly going to be a huge pressure,” Lefevere said. “But like all great riders, there’s a part of him that loves that pressure too.”