Team Dimension Data admits “it’s frustrating” that Mark Cavendish has had to deal with two early season crashes so far in 2018, including one that forced him out of Tirreno-Adriatico on Wednesday in Lido di Camaiore, Italy.
Cavendish fell in the 21.5-kilometre team time trial and rolled across the finish line on his own with blood on his face and scrapes down his right side.
>> Struggling to get to the shops? Try 6 issues of Cycling Weekly magazine for just £6 delivered to your door <<
Due to the crash, he could not stay within the time limit and the organisers classified him outside the time cut. He will be unable to start stage two regardless of the injuries he has suffered.
It follows his problems last month in the Abu Dhabi Tour, where he also crashed on stage one while the race rolled through the neutralised zone and he abandoned the race with concussion. Tirreno-Adriaico was his first competition since abandoning Abu Dhabi.
“It’s definitely really not going our way or his way, and that’s pretty frustrating,” Dimension Data performance manager Rolf Aldag said. “It started good in Dubai, but now…”
Cavendish, in his season debut, won stage three in the Dubai Tour. He continued to the Tour of Oman and then had to pull out of the Abu Dhabi Tour on February 21.
“We are just on a run aren’t we?” sports director Roger Hammond said. “My mum always used to say bad things come in threes. We’ve had three now, so let’s just hope that they are out of the way and we can push on and have a decent run.”
Cavendish also fell in the 2017 Tour de France on stage four after an incident with Peter Sagan (Bora-Hansgrohe) and abandoned the race.
The 32-year-old Manxman stayed on the team bus while his other team-mates warmed down following the stage won by BMC Racing. He exited to catch a ride in the team car to the local clinic for checks.
“It was a big crash, a really big crash,” Hammond continues. “Team time trial crashes are never great anyway, by definition they are going very fast, it was a slight tail cross-wind and you are just not expecting it. It was one of those crashes where you just sit up in the road and don’t know what happened.
“We’ve got video footage so we’ll go home and have a look at it and see what happened.”
Cavendish suffered a concussion and whiplash in the Abu Dhabi Tour crash. Today, he appeared to hit his head.
“[He’s so low and in a time trial position], if you go down, you go on your head, and of course, that’s not too cool,” added Aldag.
“He wasn’t last, but near the end in the formation. The others got around. It went so quick, we have it on camera, we will see it and analyse it, but it doesn’t matter. Right now it’s up to the doctors because the fact is that he went down really hard.”
Cavendish was targetting the sprint stage on Thursday in Tirreno-Adriatico and next Saturday’s Milan-San Remo, which he won in 2009. Now, it is too early to say whether he can arrive in Milan in form for the first Monument of 2018.
“Now, the thing is it’s up to the doctors to examine him and come up with a diagnosis,” Aldag said.
Hammond added: “We have no idea [what he can do next]. There’s no answer, we have no idea at the moment. We have our fingers crossed, and hope and pray.”