Sir Bradley Wiggins says Mark Cavendish ‘lives for the Tour de France after the British sprinter was dropped from this year’s race.
Cavendish, the winner of 30 Tour stages, was not selected by his Dimension Data squad for the 2019 race after struggling to reach the top step in recent seasons.
>> Struggling to get to the shops? Try 6 issues of Cycling Weekly magazine for just £6 delivered to your door <<
His friend and former team-mate Wiggins said Cavendish may have been in the form of his life heading into the Tour, but we’ll never know.
Speaking on his podcast The Bradley Wiggins Show Podcast Presented by Eurosport, the 2012 Tour de France winner said: “I think one notable absence who we’ve become so used to seeing is Mark Cavendish.
“I felt for him last week when I heard the news. Mark lives for this race.
“I’ve known Mark a long time and I’ve not met another person who grafts as much as Mark. He really does put the work in.”
Dimension Data announced their Tour de France 2019 squad on the eve of the race, with Italian sprinter Giacomo Nizzolo and Brit Steve Cummings included but no Cavendish.
The team made no mention of the 34-year-old during the announcement, despite it being the first Tour Cavendish has missed since his debut in 2007.
Manxman Cavendish said he was “heartbroken” over the decision and that he felt he was in peak condition ready for the Tour, having recovered from a long battle against Epstein-Barr virus that has plagued him in recent season.
Wiggins added: “Coming off the back of the illness last year he really wanted to make a statement this year at the Tour de France and if the rumours to be believed he was in the form of his life.
“We’ll never know because he’s not here but it is noticeable because for so many years this did become the Mark Cavendish show.”
The decision by Dimension Data management to leave Cavendish at home has caused a rift inside the team, as general manager Doug Ryder said it had been a joint decision while performance director Rolf Aldag said he wanted to include Cavendish but was overruled.
Cavendish’s contract with Dimension Data ends this season. After the decision, it is uncertain if Cavendish will want to remain in Ryder’s team.