Mark Cavendish unsure when he'll return to racing after Tour de France crash

Mark Cavendish joins Omega Pharma team-mates in France during second rest day

Mark Cavendish after a crash on stage one of the 2014 Tour de France

(Image credit: Graham Watson)

Mark Cavendish returned to the Tour de France on Monday during a team Omega Pharma-QuickStep press event, but remains unsure when he will race again following a crash in stage one.

"Obviously, I can't compete until I'm guaranteed that there will no more shoulder damage," Cavendish explained. "I've had an easy-ish season so far, so I want to finish the season strongly. I want to do it properly."

Cavendish crashed in Harrogate, ruptured the ligaments around the AC-joint and separated his shoulder. He underwent surgery four days later in Manchester to fix his ligaments.

The Commonwealth Games in Glasgow are out of the question for Cavendish, who returned to training on his fixed bike at his home in the Isle of Man. The Vuelta a España, too, running from August 28 to September 14, could be at risk. It leaves 'Cav' essentially without a Grand Tour in his legs for the first time since the 2006 season.

"I'm not pain-free, but I'm able to use my arm to lift things and hold things. I've got movement," he said. "The strength has gone a little bit, but I can ride my bike, and that's the main thing."

Team Omega Pharma-Quick Step, which announced it will become Etixx-Quick Step for 2015, runs two simultaneous racing programmes after the Tour de France ends on July 27 in Paris. If Cavendish does not slot into Omega's Vuelta plan, he could race with the team that heads to the Tour of Poland, the Eneco Tour, RideLondon-Surrey, Hamburg, Quebec and Montreal. Cavendish just needs to see how fast he can re-join the action.

"It seems the recovery is faster than we had hoped," Cavendish said. "I can start to train but the problem is that if I crash again... It was a grade four tear of the ligament, which was worse than we expected in the first days."

Cavendish won nine times this year already. Omega Pharma and Cavendish ideally want to get rolling again before the curtain closes on 2014 so that they can hit 2015 at full steam. Cavendish appeared determined, but also with the desire to return "properly."

"I don't want to be just riding around, and I don't want to crash and damage my shoulder still further," he said.

"I don't know how soon [my return] will be. We're going to talk about it. I'm pretty realistic that I can't jump back into competition tomorrow, but I'd like to get back as soon as possible."

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