LONDON – Mark Cavendish will be unable to chase Eddy Merckx's record of 34 Tour de France stage wins this year after the British sprinter was left out of Dimension Data's eight rider squad on Tuesday.
The 34-year-old "Manx Missile" has won 30 stages, and not missed a tour since his debut in 2007, but has suffered illness and injury in recent years.
Dimension Data did not give a reason for Cavendish's absence.
The 2011 world champion was diagnosed with the Epstein-Barr virus in 2017 and pulled out of last year's European championships road race on medical advice.
He was disqualified from the Tour last year after failing to make the time cut on the 11th stage.
Last October he extended his contract with the Africa-based team, becoming part of their newly formed supervisory board, and made clear he wanted to continue riding.
"The Tour de France record, it's no secret that it's the one goal that I have left in cycling," he said at the time. "After winning 30 stages in my career another four doesn't seem that much."
Italian sprinter Giacomo Nizzolo, an experienced Giro d'Italia rider, will make his Tour debut as Cavendish's effective replacement.
Edvald Boasson Hagen, Stephen Cummings, Reinardt Janse van Rensburg, Michael Valgren, Roman Kreuziger, Ben King, and Lars Bak are the team's other riders.
The 106th edition of the Tour starts in Brussels on Saturday. (Reporting by Alan Baldwin; Editing by Alison Williams)