Mark Cavendish has said he’s “heartbroken” by the Team Dimension Data management’s decision to leave him out of the Tour de France line-up this year – his first absence from the race since his 2007 debut.
The Manx missile added that he’s been following a specific training plan, designed to see him peak in July – and now feels he is in the “perfect place” to perform in France.
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However, with the decision out of his hands, he reinforced his support for the team and its charity goals of taking more bicycles to impoverished communities in Africa, and wished the eight riders going to France “safety and success.”
Reports suggest that whilst Dimension Data head of performance, Rolf Aldag, wanted Cavendish to race the Tour, he was overruled by team principal Doug Ryder.
The omission from the Tour start list takes the 34-year-old one year further away from equalling, or beating, the 34 stage wins held by Tour veteran, Eddy Merckx. His tally currently stands at 30 – his last success being in 2016, where he won on four days in total.
Cavendish left the race on stage 11 last year, having missed the time cut, alongside several other sprinters. Soon after, he was diagnosed with Epstein-Barr syndrome, and took time away from racing to recover.
So far this year, his best result has been a third place in the Tour of Turkey in April.
However, a block of altitude in Austria has formed part of his Tour prep – and the sprinter says it was tailored to Tour success.
Posting on Twitter, he said: “I’m absolutely heart-broken by the decision that means I won’t be [at the Tour de France] this year. As I have done for my entire career, I targeted a specific time to be at peak form. This has pretty much always resulted in me hitting my goals or coming damn close.
“Predominantly at the most beautiful, special race that is Le Tour de France, where 30 of these victories have defined my career. After a long, difficult fight back from trying to compete for the whole of last season with Epstein Barr Virus and after following a specific training program to peak in July, I feel I was in the perfect place.
“Nevertheless, I truly came to [Team Dimension Data] with the purpose of making a difference, by mobilising entire communities in Africa with bicycles through our incredible charity [Quebuka].
“Though I won’t be there, as always I’ll be supporting my teammates with all I have, wishing them safety and success in France and hoping we can get even more children on bicycles. Thank you all for your support.”