Cavendish quits Tour de Pologne for European Road Race Championships

Mark Cavendish has made what the Dimension Data team staff called a “50 per cent planned abandon” from the Tour de Pologne, failing to start Thursday’s sixth stage of the seven-day race.

The Isle of Man sprinter is riding the European Road Race Championships for Great Britain on Sunday ,and after five days at the Tour de Pologne, and with two very hilly stages remaining, Cavendish has opted to focus on this weekend’s event.

“It was 50 per cent planned, with the Europeans in mind,” Dimension Data’s Alex Sans Vega told Cyclingnews at the start of stage 6 in Zakopane.

“What was 100 per cent certain was that he would do the first three stages [all almost completely flat - ed.] and then, depending on how he felt, perhaps go through to the fifth, which is finally what he did.”

Cavendish crashed late on stage 1 in Krakow but without any serious physical consequences. He bounced back to take sixth on stage 3 to Zabrze – his best result in the WorldTour race.

Sans Vega said Cavendish came out of the race in an upbeat mood.

“He’s been very focused on the race, and, little by little, things are picking up. He’s still needing more race rhythm but I think it’s been very good for his form to be here.

“Obviously it’s up to the British national team coaches to decide on what their strategy will be on Sunday, but I’m sure that if they’re taking him there it’s because they are keen to see what he can do.”

Dimension Data have Enrico Gasparotto, currently 12th overall, as their main GC contender at the Tour de Pologne. The aim is for Gasparotto to be supported by Ben O’Connor and Stefan de Bod on the climbs, with Bernie Eisel and Jaco Venter providing support early on.

“We’d like him to finish in the top 10 at least,” Sans Vega told Cyclingnews.

“He’s done that before, he’s been training at altitude, these climbs suit him down to the ground, and so he’s made this race the second big target of his season after the Ardennes.”

Looking ahead to the rest of the 2019 season, Sans Vega thought it was unlikely Cavendish would go on to ride the Vuelta a España, as has been rumoured, saying simply: “It’s improbable.”

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Alasdair Fotheringham

Alasdair Fotheringham has been reporting on cycling since 1991. He has covered every Tour de France since 1992 bar one, as well as numerous other bike races of all shapes and sizes, ranging from the Olympic Games in 2008 to the now sadly defunct Subida a Urkiola hill climb in Spain. As well as working for Cyclingnews, he has also written for The IndependentThe GuardianProCycling, The Express and Reuters.