Back stage at the Palais des Congrès on Thursday, Mark Cavendish identified six or seven opportunities for sprinters on the route of the 2019 Tour de France. Par for the course for the modern Tour, but rather more chances than the Manxman has truly had over the past two editions of the race.
In 2017, Cavendish lined up in Dusseldorf still searching for form after Epstein Barr Virus had truncated his build-up and he left the race four days later after Peter Sagan’s manoeuvre in the finishing straight in Vittel left him with a broken shoulder.
In 2018, Cavendish was, unbeknownst to himself, still stricken by the effects of that same bout of Epstein Barr Virus. He made little impression in the bunch finishes of the opening week before he finished outside the time limit on the mammoth Alpine leg to La Rosière on stage 11.
Cavendish’s travails were put in context when it was revealed in August that he was still suffering from the Epstein Barr Virus. The RideLondon Classic in late July proved to be his final race of 2018, but the Manxman resumed training a week ago, while on Wednesday evening, Dimension Data confirmed that he had extended his contract with the team into 2019.
“It’s nice to back on my bike finally,” Cavendish said in Paris when asked about his health and the Epstein Barr Virus.
“I just have to monitor my health and hope that I stay okay really and that’s it. I’m looking forward to next year, that’s for sure. I was racing with it for 16 months. It’s not the second time I got it; it’s the same thing. It was misdiagnosed. I was racing with it for 16 months, so I’ve actually done all right to win some races.
Looking forward to 2019
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