Briton joins OmegaPharma-QuickStep on Tour's rest day
Mark Cavendish is back training on the road after crashing out of the 2014 Tour de France at the finish of the opening stage in Harrogate more than two weeks ago.
The 29-year-old sprinter from the Isle of Man went down while disputing the sprint finish in an attempt to win both the first stage and the race's first yellow jersey in his mother's home town, but was forced to leave the race, bitterly disappointed, after tearing the ligament between his collar bone and shoulder blade.
Cavendish returned to the Tour on Monday to join his Omega Pharma-Quick Step team at their press conference in Lastours, just north of Carcassonne, on the race's second rest day, where it was also announced that the squad would be known as Etixx-Quick Step from 2015, employing the name of the Omega Pharma company's sports nutrition products.
"I did my first ride on the road yesterday [Sunday]," Cavendish told the press. "I wasn't pain-free, but it was okay. I'm just a little bit weak in my right arm.
"It was a grade-four rupture of the AC joints, which means that the shoulder has separated, and has gone backwards, and sort of gone into my shoulder muscles and damaged them a bit," explained Cavendish when asked for more details about his injury. "They couldn't just do keyhole [surgery] on a 'grade four'; they have to do open-tissue [surgery], and they pinned the blade and the collar bone together to hopefully help it repair faster."
Since undergoing surgery 11 days ago, Cavendish said that he'd been getting more and more movement back in his arm every day.
"I've been doing quite a bit of work on the stationary bike this week, and that didn't hurt, so by the end of the week I was doing three one-hour sessions a day. It was nice to be back on the bike, but it was even nicer to be back out on the road yesterday."
The sprinter also said that he wasn't yet sure when he'd be racing again, but that he'd be talking to the team in the coming days to work out his programme for the rest of the season.
"I've had an easy-ish year so far," he admitted, "so I have to finish the season strongly, to honour my team and to honour the faith they've put in me. And I want to do that properly – not just be riding round, or, worse, crashing and damaging my shoulder even further, so I can't compete seriously again until it can be guaranteed that there's no more risk of causing more damage to my shoulder."
Cavendish also explained that, once he is back racing, it could take a while before he's feeling fully confident in the sprints again.
"It does take a bit of time. Even with my other crashes, I haven't had the injuries I've got now. It definitely does knock your confidence a little bit for a little while, but it's part and parcel of not just being a sprinter, but of being a bike rider. You crash, you get injuries; it's all part of the job, and you just have to try to get on with it."
Even without him, Omega Pharma-Quick Step have been able to take two stage victories, through Matteo Trentin on stage 7 and Tony Martin on stage 9 – wins that Cavendish has been keeping up with at home on television and via Twitter.
"We came here pretty much with a sprint team, and to then lose the sprinter on the first day could have thrown the team into a difficult situation," he said. "But the guys have been incredible. You've got Niki Terpstra here, who won Paris-Roubaix, and Michal Kwiatkowski, who's been in the white jersey most of the time. Alessandro Petacchi's won stages here before, and with Matteo winning a stage, and then Tony winning a stage, I'm sure there could be more stage wins to come.
"This is the first Tour I've missed," said Cavendish, who has ridden the race every year since his debut in 2007. "The Tour is the biggest bike race in the world, but I hope to come back next year and be successful again. I've missed it."
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