LONDON - British cyclist Mark Cavendish will take an indefinite break from training to recover from the effects of Epstein-Barr virus, commonly known as glandular fever, his Dimension Data team confirmed on Wednesday.
Cavendish, who has won 30 stages of the Tour de France in a decorated career, had endured a disappointing season and was eliminated from the Tour in July after finishing outside the time limit on stage 11.
"This season I’ve not felt physically myself and despite showing good numbers on the bike I have felt that there’s been something not right," said Cavendish. "Given this and on the back of these medical results, I’m glad to now finally have some clarity as to why I haven’t been able to perform at my optimum level during this time."
Dimension Data said that Cavendish, 33, had been "unknowingly training and racing with EBV over recent months". The Manxman was first diagnosed with the virus, which is an illness associated with fever, sore throat, swollen lymph nodes in the neck, and sometimes an enlarged spleen, in April 2017.
He returned to action at the Tour of Slovenia just two months later. However, since then Cavendish has been beset by injuries, breaking his shoulder blade in a crash on stage four at the 2017 Tour de France before suffering a crash at the Milan-San Remo in March which forced him to withdraw from April's Commonwealth Games. Dimension Data added he needs a period of rest before returning to training but gave no details on when the specialist sprinter will be back in the saddle.
Meanwhile, French President Emmanuel Macron revealed Wednesday while on a state visit to Denmark that the Tour de France cycling race would soon embark from Copenhagen.
The world's biggest cycling race, which takes place over three weeks every July, frequently sets off from a country outside France and Brussels will host the opening stages of the 2019 Tour. Copenhagen is a candidate to host the "Grand Depart" in either 2020 or 2021.
Macron and Danish Prime Minister Lars Lokke Rasmussen, a cycling enthusiast, spent an hour riding around the Copenhagen waterfront on Wednesday. The French president also offered his host the iconic yellow jersey worn by Tour leaders and winners, signed by current champion Geraint Thomas of Wales. Tour de France director Christian Prudhomme was in Macron's delegation to Denmark.