Medical tests showed the Manxman had been riding with the virus over recent months

Mark Cavendish will take a spell away from racing after being diagnosed with the Epstein-Barr virus, his Dimension Data team have said.

Cavendish has had a difficult time during the 2018 season, suffering several crashes in early season races including Milan-San Remo, before missing the time cut on the stage to La Rosière and being eliminated from the Tour de France.

He then pulled out of the European Championships road race in August on medical advice, and is now taking time away from competitive action after being diagnosed with the virus.

The 33-year-old had been previously affected by the virus – also known as mononucleosis which can cause serious fatigue – in the 2017 season when he also was forced to miss a period of racing.

Dimension Data have said he will now need a period of complete rest after medical tests showed he had been riding with the virus “over recent months.” Cavendish said he knew something had not been right with him through part of the season and that he had not felt physically himself.

“This season I’ve not felt physically myself and despite showing good numbers on the bike I have felt that there’s been something not right,” Cavendish said.

“Given this and on the back of these medical results, I’m glad to now finally have some clarity as to why I haven’t been able to perform at my optimum level during this time.

“Having received expert medical advice as a result of the findings I’ve been advised to take a period of total rest in order to fully recover.

“I’m now looking forward to taking the time necessary in order to get back to 100% fitness before then returning to racing again at peak physical condition.

“I’d like to thank everyone for the incredible support I’ve received and I look forward to seeing you all out on the road again soon.”