Mark Cavendish: ‘Illness was mismanaged so I’ve done myself more damage’

The Brit says he hopes the Epstein-Barr virus is behind him after recent seasons were hampered by illness

Mark Cavendish says he “did himself more damage” after mismanaging the illness that has plagued his performance in recent seasons

The Brit was diagnosed and treated for Epstein-Barr virus early in 2017 , but took an indefinite break this season after being re-diagnosed with the condition.

In an interview with BBC Sport, Cavendish said he now hopes the illness is behind him.

The 33-year-old said: “As it wasn’t managed properly I’ve done myself more and more damage.

“But I seem to be training alright and it’s behind me now, hopefully.”

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Cavendish, winner of 30 stages of the Tour de France, took a break from racing in April 2017 after he was diagnosed with Epstein-Barr.

The Manxman had been suffering from an unexplained fatigue during training, which led to the diagnosis.

He returned to racing in early 2018, but struggled after crashing in both the Abu Dhabi Tour and Milan-San Remo.

Cavendish started the Tour de France this season, but picked up no wins and was eliminated after failing to make the time cut on stage 11.

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After pulling out of the European Championships road race in August, he announced an indefinite rest period after being re-diagnosed with Epstein-Barr.

Since the diagnosis, Cavendish has returned to training and after re-signing with Dimension Data for 2019 he is due to ride the Vuelta a San Juan in January.

He told the BBC: “I’m alright I think now, but you never know with Epstein-Barr.”

Cavendish is approaching the record for the most Tour de France stage wins, currently held by Eddy Merckx with 34 victories.

Earlier this year, Cavendish revealed that breaking Merckx’s record was the only milestone he was targeting.

He said: “In terms of races I can physically win, I’ve pretty much done everything… It’s really the only target I have left. It seems so close yet it is a big distance away.”