By Shane Stokes
Almost twelve months after lining out in his first Tour de France, Mark Scanlon has confirmed that he will miss this year's race. The Sligo man performed solidly in the 2004 event, helping to set up team-mates Jaan Kirsipuu and Jean Patrick Nazon for stage wins, but has been hampered by illness and injury problems this season.
Scanlon had been a possible starter after the withdrawal of AG2R-Prévoyance team-mate Cyril Dessel due to appendicitis but, because of his disturbed race programme this year, stated yesterday that he would prefer not to do the Tour this year. He was somewhat relieved to hear the news today that this would indeed be the case.
"When you haven't the preparation done, you haven't the preparation done," he said. "It is a very tough event and there are no miracles. If I did it, I might go okay for seven to ten days but then after that, there would have been a very, very slim chance of finishing. And even if I did that, the chances are that my season would be over."
"The start of this year was a bit messy," said Scanlon. "I had a problem with a tendon earlier this season, which was caused by the ratchet system on a new pair of cycling shoes. Then, more recently, I had tonsillitis and was on antibiotics for ten days."
With the first half of his season a bit of a write-off and the Tour off the agenda, Scanlon is now looking forward to the second half of the year which he hopes, "will be better. I'll do the one day Tour du Doubs next weekend and after that, would like to give the Tour of Denmark a rattle and the Tour de la Région Wallonne. If I prepare well enough, there is no reason why I can't get up in a couple of French classics such as the GP d'Isbergues. And doing a good ride in the Worlds is definitely an objective."