Mark Cavendish (Omega Pharma-Quickstep) will miss this year’s Giro d’Italia and race in the Tour of California and Tour de Suisse as a build up to the Tour de France.
The British champion won five stages of last year’s Giro and the points competition having won three stages of the 2012 and 2011 editions.
Cavendish had suffered illness in recent weeks and missed the opportunity to contest a record-equaling third victory at Schelderprijs.
He said: “This year I will skip the Giro d’Italia. I’m saddened as it’s a race that has given me great satisfaction in the past. I have great memories and victories, even last year. But, with the Tour de France as my main objective this year, we had to make some choices.
“I’m sure passing through the Tour of Turkey, and a great, well organized race like Tour of California will get me in shape and ready for the Tour de Suisse, which will be my final tune-up for the Tour de France.”
The news will be a disappointment to fans in Belfast and Ireland, which will host the opening three stages of this year’s Giro, but it is not unexpected given the visit of the Grand Depart of the Tour de France to Britain. The opening stage ends in Harrogate – the home town of Cavendish’s mother. Should he win the stage, he will also pull on the maillot jaune of race leader – the one Grand Tour leader’s jersey missing from his wardrobe.
Rolf Aldag, the sports and development manager at Omega Pharma-Quickstep, said Cavendish’s programme had been altered in response to his recent illness.
“It’s a shame because Mark showed how strong he was at Milano-Sanremo. He could have taken advantage of his condition during the period immediately after that race,” he said.
“But, it is what it is, and now we have rebuilt the best approach for Cavendish heading into the Tour. Cav is now training in Italy and will be back at Tour of Turkey with a good, strong team around him. With Tour of Turkey we will open the second part of his season, that culminates with the Tour de France.”