Philippe Gilbert, you know Mark Cavendish feels your pain.
According to BMC Racing’s team doctor, the classics superstar has been suffering from a tooth infection. It made him miserable in Tirreno-Adriatico, compromised his Milan San Remo preparation and left him powerless in yesterday’s E3 Prijs Hockeypuck.
“It’s drawn on his reserves and prevented him from eating well, which has resulted in a sudden weight loss,” said Dr. Giovanni Ruffini. “This may explain his lack of energy.” Damn choppers.
Two years ago, it was sprinter Mark Cavendish who was forced off the bike with a painful tooth abscess. It was drained and antibiotics prescribed but it took a few races to get up to speed.
We’re assuming that Cavendish and Gilbert don’t share the same dentist or there may be a disbarment in the works. The old cliche about needing good legs to win has to be amended — you also need a nice set up healthy teeth.
Gilbert racked up an astonishing 19 wins last season but the tooth infection made him look like pack fodder in E3. “All of a sudden I didn’t have any power. I saw that the race was kicking off and I would have loved to have been in front, but I wasn’t able,” said Gilbert. “I was empty, without energy, as though I had the knock, but it wasn’t that.”
Back in 2010, Cavendish called his tooth abscess “the worst pain I’ve ever felt, it hurt so much I was crying like a baby.” Things haven’t been as dramatic for Gilbert but in terms of race results, he’s off to a glacial start. Like the BMC team as a whole, his win total is zero. You could say the squad has lacked a certain bite.
Still, it’s early in a long, long season and Gilbert will return to his dominating form. Perhaps he should take a positive from what Cavendish had to say about his dental dilemma: “What happened could end up a blessing in disguise as it’ll force me to come into form later than planned.”
Cavendish did exactly that, winning five stages of the Tour de France and three stage of the Vuelta a Espana. Twisted Spoke says cheer up Phil, there’s still plenty of time to win big races and drink champagne — but don’t chew on any ice cubes, okay?