Paris - Isle of Man sprint star Mark Cavendish said on Wednesday he will not defend his title at the British national road championships this weekend as he recovers from bronchitis.
The Omega Pharma rider fell ill during the Tour of Switzerland last week, and has not recovered sufficiently to take part in Sunday's race.
“I'm sad because, as current champion, I would really like to defend the title,” Cavendish said.
“I would have liked to honour the race and this jersey that I wore for all of 2014 so far, which allowed me to represent my country proudly.
“I think it's wiser, however, to not take any risks and focus on absolute, 100 percent recovery, and continue to train in function of the Tour de France.
“I talked with the race organisers and they understood my situation perfectly. I wish them well, and also wish good luck to all riders at the race on Sunday trying to fight for this jersey I've been so proud to wear.”
The Tour de France begins on July 5 in Leeds, England.
Cavendish is winner of 25 Tour stages, which is third on the all-time list, nine behind Belgian legend Eddy Merckx and three behind French rider Bernard Hinault.
Cavendish will continue training in Italy prior to the Tour de France.