Mark Cavendish's will not start Ghent-Wevelgem on Sunday after suffering from a fever, his Omega Pharma-QuickStep team confirmed on Friday evening.
Possibly due to a cold and wet Milan-San Remo, where he finished fifth, he spent 18 hours in bed with a fever.
Cavendish said via a team statement: "Already on Wednesday I didn’t feel well, but I went out on my bike. I went out yesterday again, but after an hour I had muscle pain and couldn’t keep going. I went home at about 15 kilometers per hour. I couldn’t go any faster and I spent the rest of the day on my bed.
"Today my situation was a little bit better, but not enough to jump on my bike and train. I am a little bit disappointed because I was really motivated for Ghent-Wevelgem. It’s a race I’ve never won. But there is nothing to do now other than recover and try to be there at Driedaagse van De Panne, as scheduled in my programme. I’d like to wish my teammates the best at the race this Sunday."
The peloton did not face snow at Milan-San Remo this year but it did race for seven hours, partly under rain and hail with heavy winds blowing. Norwegian Alexander Kristoff (Katusha) won the race ahead of several riders who said that the cold had zapped their strength.
Peter Sagan explained: "I suffered a lot the cold and the bad weather." Cavendish said afterwards: "My legs just stopped working in the sprint."
Cavendish has now felt the consequences of the fever that kept him in bed. On Sunday, he was due to race Ghent-Wevelgem and try for his first ever win in the one-day classic after placing 17th in 2008 and 18th last year.
"It will have an effect if he can't train well but if he's healthy then it won't matter if he is in bed for one or two days, he won't lose out," Kristoff told Cycling Weekly before the team confirmed Cavendish's non-participation. "It won't have a big effect."
The Ghent-Wevelgem organiser sent out a preliminary start list on Friday afternoon and it listed Cavendish as a starter, number 102. He will be replaced by Iljo Keisse.
"[The fever is] a pity because I think the race on Sunday would be really good for him," sport director Tom Steels told reporters today at E3 Harelbeke in Belgium. "For sure it's not [ideal] to have a fever [48 hours out]. I think the race from Milano-San Remo took a lot out of the riders."
Mark Cavendish talks through the finale of Sunday's Milan-San Remo, run in cold temperatures and pouring rain
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