CARCASSONNE, France (AFP) — Sprint ace Mark Cavendish vowed Monday to return to action before the end of the season to repay the faith his Omega Pharma-Quick Step team has shown in him.
The 29-year-old crashed out of the opening stage of the Tour de France two weeks ago in his mother’s hometown of Harrogate in northern England, suffering a separated shoulder.
He has since undergone an operation and having climbed back on his bike for the first time on Sunday, said he was hopeful to be back racing before the season is over.
“I did my first ride on the road yesterday, I wasn’t pain-free but I was OK,” he said from a press event in Carcassonne on the Tour’s second rest day.
“I’m just a bit weak on my right arm. My surgeon Len Fong has done an incredible job and after a few days, then I’ve been working with my physio Phil Jones on the Isle of Man.
“I’ve been in the hyperbaric (oxygen therapy) chamber in the Isle of Man, it seems to speed up recovery more than I hoped so I think I can start to train, but the problem is if I crash it would damage [the shoulder].
“I had a grade four ligament tear, which was worse than we expected in the first few days, but I’ve had great people around me with my rehab and we’ll be talking with the team in the next few days to see what my program is.”
The “Manx Missile” wouldn’t commit to an exact return date, refusing to speculate whether or not he will compete in September’s UCI Road World Championships in Ponferrada, Spain.
“I don’t know how long I’m going to be before I start racing, I just got back on the road on my bike yesterday,” he said. “Obviously I can’t be competing seriously until I can be guaranteed there’s no more shoulder damage.”
The former world champion said his team had been very supportive and he wanted to get back racing quickly to start repaying them.
“I’m in a great situation with the support I’ve had from my team and I’ve had an easyish year so far,” he said.
“I have to finish the season strong to honor my team and honor the faith they’ve had in me.
“I want to do that properly, I don’t want to be just riding around, and worse I don’t want to crash and damage my shoulder even further.”