Cycling: Cavendish pulls out as season suffers teething issues

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Britain's top road cyclist Mark Cavendish pulled out of the Tour of Andalusia's last stage yesterday, making this the first multi-day event since April 2008 in which the Briton has not scored at least one victory.

Andalusia's hilly route did no favours to cycling's most prolific winner in 2009 – including a record-breaking six Tour de France stages – but neither has Cavendish's battle against a severe tooth infection, which partially wrecked his pre-season training and pushed back his race start by two weeks. "It's over now and my condition's improving fast but it was the worst pain I've ever felt, it hurt so much I was crying like a baby," said Cavendish, who will wear a dental brace for a year.

"Once I had a wisdom tooth out without anaesthetic, this was way more painful. The infection killed the nerve on one tooth and another had to be taken out. There was one point where to swab it they had to cut it with a knife. The truth is I wouldn't wish the pain I felt on anybody."

The tooth infection reportedly resulted in Cavendish's training programme at his HTC-Columbia's recent pre-season camp in Mallorca slashed from 2,000 kilometres (1,250 miles) to just 300. But with big objectives later in the year, like the Tour de France's green points jersey and the World Championships in October, Cavendish says the delay in race form may finally not be such a bad thing. "What happened could end up a blessing in disguise as it'll force me to come into form later than planned. It's a long season, Andalusia is only the starting point."

The event was won by Cavendish's HTC-Columbia team-mate Michael Rogers.

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