Mark Cavendish will not come any closer to Eddy Merckx’s record tally of 34 Tour de France stage wins this year, as the British sprinter has been left out of Dimension Data‘s squad for La Grande Boucle.
Cavendish, who has 30 Tour stages to his name, has been hampered by Epstein Barr Virus in recent years and although he declared he was clear of the threshold in May, he has struggled for form in 2019.
Dimension Data were one of the last teams to name their eight-rider roster for the Tour, which begins in Brussels on Saturday. They did so on Tuesday morning, naming a squad that is set up for stage wins, from the likes of Edvald Boasson Hagen, Michael Valgren, and Steve Cummings. In Cavendish’s absence, they have a pure sprinter in the form of Giacomo Nizzolo, who won a stage of the recent Tour of Slovenia, a race where Cavendish was also present.
Despite being the biggest name on their team, and the rider around whom they built when moving to WorldTour level in 2016, the 34-year-old wasn’t mentioned in Dimension Data’s announcement and no explanation was given for his absence.
“It’s a squad that carries a huge amount of experience and will look to challenge by way of aggressive racing, while at the same time staying true to our team’s goal of changing lives through bicycles,” read the team’s statement.
This will be the first Tour de France Cavendish has missed since he made his debut at the race in 2007. While he didn’t win a stage that year, he won four in 2008, six in 2009, four in 2010, five in 2011, three in 2012, and two in 2013. Things dried up for a couple of years as he crashed out on the opening day in 2014 and ‘only’ managed one win in 2015, but he bounced back with four wins in 2016 in his first season with Dimension Data. That was his last win, as he was taken out by another crash early in 2017, and Epstein Barr held him back in 2018.
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