Mark Cavendish ruled out of De Panne

British champion still recovering from illness

Mark Cavendish (Omega Pharma-QuickStep) has pulled out of the Three Days of De Panne, due to stomach problems that he picked up at Milan-San Remo.

“I am really disappointed. Sunday I felt better and I was able to train well, but Sunday night I was sick again and had diarrhea,” said Cavendish in a team press release. “I am in no shape to start, especially because I can’t eat or drink anything.”

The Manxman travelled to Belgium to take part in the stage race, where he was set to face off against Marcel Kittel (Giant-Shimano), but dropped out after seeing the team’s doctor this morning. “He was sick last night and he spent all night on the toilet and he was not ready for the start,” team directeur sportif Wilfried Peeters told Cyclingnews at the start of the first stage.

“The doctor was with him this morning and he had a very bad night. He arrived yesterday from London and said that he wanted to race, last night but he had stomach problems.”

This is the second consecutive race that Cavendish pulled out of. He skipped Gent-Wevelgem on Sunday, in an attempt to return to full health for the remainder of the classics. He picked up the illness during the wet and cold Milan-San Remo, where he sprinted to fifth.

“For his form this is not good. He needs a race like this. It’s nice weather, nice race. When you are sick you lose form,” said Peeters. “I hope so for next week in Scheldeprijs. We have lost three days he has not raced from Milan-San Remo until now. He wasn’t racing in Gent-Wevelgem and he isn’t racing now. Hopefully he will be ready next week, but first we must get him back to training.”

Boonen on the up

Cavendish is not the only Omega Pharma-QuickStep rider to be suffering this week. Tom Boonen injured his thumb at E3 Harelbeke last Friday and had it heavily strapped at Gent-Wevelgem two days later. Boonen’s condition is improving but, with recent events as they have been, Peeters doesn’t believe that he is one of the big favourites for the title at the Tour of Flanders.

“He’s getting better. Better than last week,” he explained. “He is not racing these three days. He will not be a favourite like [Fabian] Cancellara and [Peter] Sagan. He’s on the second line.”

The Belgian’s run up to the Tour of Flanders has been rocky, with family problems meaning that he missed Milan-San Remo. The multiple Flanders winner hasn’t looked on top form in recent races, before injuring his thumb. Omega Pharma-QuickStep is not putting all their apples into one basket though and they believe that they can still win without an in form Boonen. “If you look we have a lot of strong riders. Zdenek Stybar and Terpstra. In that way we have a strong team, very large and hopefully one of these guys will be able to win on Sunday.”

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