Manx sprinter still aiming to put himself into Tour de France yellow jersey after Grand Depart in Yorkshire

Mark Cavendish, according to team Omega Pharma-Quick Step, is sad to skip Ghent-Wevelgem today but remains focused on his Tour de France yellow jersey goal. To get to Yorkshire’s Grand Départ, he will race the Three Days of De Panne, Scheldeprijs and likely skip the Giro d’Italia in favour of the Tour of California.

“It’s not easy,” development manager, Rolf Aldag told Cycling Weekly on Cavendish skipping the Ghent-Wevelgem one-day classic. He ranks it high on his list of one-day races along with the World Championships, Milan-San Remo and Scheldeprijs. Out of the four, the Belgian classic through Flanders is the only one he lacks on his palmarès.

“On the phone he sounded sad because the day before we discussed wheel and tire choices. Then from one day to another, it’s just another victim of Milan-San Remo. What can we do? He can’t come to the races just to come.”

Cavendish felt bad after a training ride on Thursday and stayed in bed for 18 hours. On Friday, the team discussed his Ghent-Wevelgem participation and decided it was best to skip it.

“He returned from training and said that he really feels bad and was shaking. I told him to call the doctor,” Aldag said.

“If you’re Cavendish, Tom Boonen or Fabian Cancellara, then people have expectations. If you’re sick, you have to accept it, not to take risk for your health and do what’s best for the team.”

Cavendish trained in Tuscany for 1.5 hours yesterday and returned to England ahead of this week’s races. He will join the team for the Three Days of De Panne starting on Tuesday and aim at a fourth title in Scheldeprijs next Wednesday.

Aldag would not say how long of a break Cavendish would take after Scheldeprijs. Traditionally, he returns to race the Giro d’Italia in May and the Tour de France in July. However, for the first time since 2010, he may skip the Italy’s Grand Tour.

“His main goal is the Tour de France,” Aldag added. “He loves the Giro d’Italia but did it improve his shape for the Tour de France last year? It’s difficult to say. Can you really do two Grand Tours at a highest level?

“If you wake him up at 3:00 AM, he’d say, ‘Yes, of course I want to do the Giro.’ In the evening, when his training is over and his mind is clear… The Tour is his goal. He does not want to spread himself all over the place at 90%. He wants to be 100% to the Tour.”

If he skips the Giro, Aldag said that Cavendish’s “obvious choice” would be to race the eight-day Tour of California in May.