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 has been recovering from illness Photo : Yuzuru SUNADA
(Image credit: Yuzuru SUNADA)

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.”

>>> Scott Thwaites exploring career options outside of cycling after crash injuries 

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.

>>> Sir Bradley Wiggins believes his hour record will be beaten next year

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.”

Thank you for reading 20 articles this month* Join now for unlimited access

Enjoy your first month for just £1 / $1 / €1

*Read 5 free articles per month without a subscription

Join now for unlimited access

Try first month for just £1 / $1 / €1

Alex Ballinger

Alex Ballinger is editor of BikeBiz magazine, the leading publication for the UK cycle industry, and is the former digital news editor for After gaining experience in local newsrooms, national newspapers and in digital journalism, Alex found his calling in cycling, first as a reporter, then as news editor responsible for Cycling Weekly's online news output, and now as the editor of BikeBiz. Since pro cycling first captured his heart during the 2010 Tour de France (specifically the Contador-Schleck battle) Alex covered three Tours de France, multiple editions of the Tour of Britain, and the World Championships, while both writing and video presenting for Cycling Weekly. He also specialises in fitness writing, often throwing himself into the deep end to help readers improve their own power numbers.  Away from the desk, Alex can be found racing time trials, riding BMX and mountain bikes, or exploring off-road on his gravel bike. He’s also an avid gamer, and can usually be found buried in an eclectic selection of books.