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Week-long US race to provide gentler build-up to Tour de France following rider's dental problems...

HTC-Columbia’s Mark Cavendish will pass up the chance to add to his four Giro d’Italia stage wins from last year and will instead ride the Tour of California as part of his preparation for the Tour de France.

The Manx Missile’s start to the 2010 season has been severely hampered as a result of dental problems, and after a disappointing showing in Milan-San Remo, which he famously won last year, the 24-year-old finally claimed his first win of the year last week in the Tour of Catalonia.

In a statement released by HTC-Columbia, team manager Bob Stapleton highlighted the disruption caused by Cavendish’s health problems, saying: “Infections resulting from dental work in December undermined his training and delayed his start of the season.”

He added: “We believe Mark will be very strong at the Tour de France and the balance of the season. He will join the team in California and we are very optimistic about his chances for success there.”

The Tour of California, which takes place from 16 to 23 May, has been put back in the calendar this year, leading to the clash with the Giro, and the week-long race will provide a less taxing build-up to the Tour de France than the three week-long Italian Grand Tour.

From the US-owned team’s point of view, the presence of Cavendish will be a bonus in sponsor terms, apparently a motivation behind the rider’s decision to race in last year’s Tour of Missouri rather than the Vuelta.

There, André Greipel proved the team’s star turn, taking four stages and the points classification, and with Cavendish racing in California, the German would now be expected to play an integral part in HTC-Columbia’s Giro plans.
 

Simon has been news editor at road.cc since 2009, reporting on 10 editions and counting of pro cycling’s biggest races such as the Tour de France, stories on issues including infrastructure and campaigning, and interviewing some of the biggest names in cycling. A law and languages graduate, published translator and former retail analyst, his background has proved invaluable in reporting on issues as diverse as cycling-related court cases, anti-doping investigations, and the bike industry. He splits his time between London and Cambridge, and loves taking his miniature schnauzer Elodie on adventures in the basket of her Elephant Bike.