The decision to exclude Mark Cavendish from the Team Dimension Data Tour de France line-up was not unanimous, reports suggest.
The 30-time Tour stage winner will not join his Team Dimension Data for the French Grand Tour, with questions hanging over his form.
However, it is understood that the team’s head of performance, Rolf Aldag, wanted Cavendish to race the Tour, but was overruled by team principal Doug Ryder, according to a Press Association report.
The final eight rider line-up includes Edvald Boasson Hagen and Great Britain’s Stephen Cummings.
In a statement, the team said: “Selection for our Tour squad was a highly-competitive process and one in which a panel weighed up the options provided to us not only by Mark but indeed all of our riders.
“As you’d expect among a selection panel, there were a number of different preferences of the final squad make up with our team principal, Doug Ryder, making the final decision on it.
“This selection is one the team believes will be best suited to meet the goals set out for the race.”
It will be the first time Cavendish has missed the race since his debut in 2007 – and he had hoped to close the gap to the stage wins record of Eddy Merckx, who has 34 victories.
The Manxman had a disappointing 2018 Tour, missing the time gap on stage 11 – before being diagnosed with Epstein-Barr syndrome, and taking time out of competition.
He’s not demonstrated a return to full health yet, with his best 2019 result a third place in the Tour of Turkey in April.
However, he recently completed a block of training at altitude in Austria, before returning to race the British National Championships road race on Sunday – where he finished 22nd.
Cavendish’s wife, Peta, has hinted at questions over the Dimension Data leadership’s decision.
Replying to a Twitter user who commented that it was “an understandable decision if Cav isn’t fully fit”, she simply wrote “if” – suggesting that the 34-year-old sprinter may well consider himself back to winning form.
She then went on to re-tweet comments made by journalist Matt Lawton, who asked: “if he [Cavendish] thinks he’s ready after a good training block at altitude does that count for anything?”, before stating: “he apparently thinks he’s ready and is stunned as a consequence. Senior figures at DD also thought that, I’m told.”
The ‘Manx Missile’ joined the team in 2016, instantly becoming its star rider as the squad took to the WorldTour mantle. He’s been a vocal part of its mission to use bikes to improve lifestyles for impoverished people in South Africa, via the Qhubeka charity.
In his first year in the Dimension Data jersey, Cavendish won four Tour de France stages for the team. However, the following year he crashed out of the race, following a clash with Peter Sagan – who was disqualified. Then in 2018, the Epstein-Barr illness reared its head.
Cavendish sucking up a decent percentage of the emerging team’s budget, his contract for 2019 was believed to be under question, but he resigned for another year in October.
Cavendish is yet to comment on the Team Dimension Data Tour de France line-up.