For the first time in his career, Mark Cavendish enters the second half of the season with no Grand Tour under his belt. After 17 months without a win, he is looking to get back to winning ways at this week’s Tour of Poland before racing the European Road Championships in Alkmaar, Holland next Sunday.
Cavendish was omitted from Team Dimension Data’s Tour de France line-up last month. It was the first time he’d not taken part in the race since 2006.
Dimension Data’s team manager and owner were reportedly split over whether or not he should have been included.
While Cavendish himself had been bullish about his form in the lead-up to the announcement, he had struggled to return to peak condition since being diagnosed with the Epstein-Barr Virus in April 2017. His most recent victory came in the Abu Dhabi Tour in February 2018.
Writing on Twitter yesterday, Cavendish said: “After the shock of missing out on going to [the Tour de France], I took a week or so off the bike to get my head straight, think clearly and plan what would be my first ever second half of the season without a Grand Tour in my legs. It’s a bit of an unknown.
“So I rode low-key for a couple of days, to get back into the swing at Adriatica Ionica Race last week. Some long gravel sections made it a pretty fun way to get back racing, but the inevitable puncture lottery gave me and a good chunk of the peloton bad odds that time and we rolled in. But it was nice to get back started.
“The last days I’ve spent in Austria with my family – though it wasn’t the usual post-Tour break that I get to enjoy with them. While they had their summer holiday by the lake, I was training with my teammate, Bernie Eisel.”
Today Cavendish started the Tour of Poland. He says Dimension Data have fielded a climbing-based team, “but we’ll see what we can do in today’s sprint.”
Fernando Gaviria (UAE Team Emirates) and Pascal Ackermann (Bora-Hansgrohe) are among those he will be up against.
Cavendish has also been named in the Great Britain squad for the European Road Championships on August 11.