Mark Cavendish will return to competition at the Tour of Turkey next week. The Dimension Data rider has not raced since abandoning Paris-Nice in March, but after a block of training in Mallorca, the 33-year-old is ready to restart his season.
Cavendish has been blighted by health problems for the last two years owing to Epstein-Barr Virus. He shelved the second half of the 2018 season in order to recover and came through the Vuelta a San Juan and the UAE Tour at the start of this season. Those races were seen as vital for his training and ongoing recovery. In both Argentina and the UAE he often worked for teammates, while closely monitoring his health for any signs of the virus returning.
In March, the 2011 road world champion returned to Europe and raced Paris-Nice but he was forced to quit during the second stage after losing contact with the main field. As a result, Cavendish missed Milan-San Remo for the first time since winning the Monument in 2009. Earlier in the classics campaign, Dimension Data team boss Doug Ryder failed to offer a timescale on Cavendish’s return, but several weeks later the team have confirmed that the rider would return for Turkey.
“There’s no real news but he’s going to go and race the Tour of Turkey. That’s all for now, we’ll go from there,” Dimension Data’s Rolf Aldag told Cyclingnews on the eve of Paris-Roubaix.
“He’s coming from a good block of training and that’s really all the news. Anything else is just speculation.
“He’s been in Mallorca and he’s training. He’s good connections there and cycling is small world. He trained with [Zdenek] Štybar, and riders support and hang out with each other, whether they’re on the same team or not. Right now, he does Turkey and then we’ll see.”
Cavendish has raced in Turkey before, winning seven stages spanning across the 2014 and 2015 editions of the race. The objective this time around will surely be to complete the race and put his body through stage racing once more. Aldag would not be drawn on any possible post-Turkey race plans, such as whether Cavendish would ride the Tour of Yorkshire, but he added that the stage in which Cavendish quit Paris-Nice was one of the hardest in recent years.
“Top riders have told me that the stage was one of the three hardest days in their careers. It was full crosswinds for the entire distance and it was super, super difficult,” Aldag said.
The Tour of Turkey takes place from April 16 to 21