Cavendish postpones season start

Plus: Caisse d'Epargne to pull funding in 2011

British sprint specialist Mark Cavendish will launch his 2010 campaign at the Spanish stage race la Ruta del Sol, which starts on 17 February, his Columbia team announced today (Friday).

The Manx rider had initially been scheduled to begin his season at the Tour of Qatar but was forced to scale back on his training due to a dental problem.

"We want to take maximum precautions," said Columbia's German team principal, Rolf Aldag.

"The main objectives for the season remain the same," added Aldag, who said that Cavendish would target the spring classics Milan-Sanremo and the Tour of Flanders before focusing his attention on the major stage races.

Cavendish was due to race the Tour of Qatar from 7-12 February, followed by the Tour of Oman from 14-19 February.

The 24-year-old sprint sensation recorded 29 professional victories last year, including Milan-Sanremo, three stages at the Giro d'Italia and a British record six stages at the Tour de France.

Caisse d'Epargne to pull funding in 2011

The bank that sponsors and lends its name to the Caisse d'Epargne cycling team, which has Spaniard Alejandro Valverde on its books, will pull its funding at the end of 2010.

"There will be a Caisse d'Epargne team on the 2010 Tour de France but it's a contract that stops in 2010. It will not be renewed," Francois Perol, president of banking group Banque Populaire-Caisses d'Epargne (BPCE), told Radio-Classique.

"We became the French banking sponsor of the Olympic Games so we will accompany the French national teams to Vancouver, to London in 2012 and we will support Annecy's candidacy for the Winter Olympics in 2018," Perol said.

"It's a business management decision and because the values of the Olympics seem to correspond closely to the values of BPCE."

Caisse d'Epargne has sponsored the Spanish cycling team run first by Jose Miguel Echavarri and latterly Eusebio Unzue since 2005.

Apart from Valverde, who is serving a two-year suspension in Italy for alleged links to the notorious Operation Puerto doping scandal, the team also figures Spain's Paris-Nice winner Luis Leon Sanchez, Colombian climbers Mauricio Soler and Rigoberto Uran, and up-and-coming Portuguese rider Rui Da Costa.

© AFP 2010

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