Former British champion Ian Stannard will not ride this year’s Tour de France as he continues to recover from the injury suffered at Gent-Wevelgem.
Stannard, who made his Tour debut as one of Chris Froome’s domestiques last year, has been sidelined since the crash in which he suffered a fractured vertebrae after falling into a ditch.
A Team Sky statement explained that the injury transpired to be more complex than originally diagnosed and Stannard – who was almost omnipresent at the front of the bunch in support of Froome last year – confirmed he will not be back in time for this year’s Tour.
“[It’s] really stressful,” he told the Team Sky website. “As professional cyclists, we’re used to training five or six hours a day, and then there’s the whole lifestyle that comes with that like diet, recovery and things.
“When that gets taken away it’s really hard for us to adjust because we’ve become so accustomed to doing it.
“I’d been training hard since the end of last year and that was all wasted. I spent a lot of time in Australia, did all the build up for the Classics, and then I picked up my injury just days before the Tour of Flanders and Paris-Roubaix.
“I had all that stress in the build up to those races, and all the stress that came with having a broken back, and then the stress of not being able to ride the Tour.”
The 26-year-old has been off the bike since sustaining the injury and admitted it has been a frustrating period for him.
After suffering the injury, Stannard was referred to a neurosurgeon and then a spine specialist in the following week, where the true extent of his injuries was revealed.
The Essex-born rider said: “It was really hard to take, especially when it became clear that I wouldn’t be riding the Tour de France.
“At the same time, it was nice to get a definitive call – a clear cut decision. There was no uncertainty about what I should and shouldn’t be doing.
“He said I’d been really lucky not to suffer any permanent damage because my vertebrae had been quite badly damaged.”
Stannard – who said he is feeling no pain as a result of the injury, but is keen not to rush back too soon – believes he will be back in action before the end of the season.
He concluded: “I’m eager to get back in the saddle but it’s in the hands of the experts.”