After three months on the sidelines because of an Epstein Barr Virus infection, Mark Cavendish will make his return to racing at the British national championships in the last weekend of June. However, the Dimension Data team have told Cyclingnews they are no closer to a decision on his participation in the Tour de France.
The British sprinter was diagnosed with the illness, also known as mononucleosis and glandular fever, in April, and since recovery times vary wildly, he and his team have been cautious about setting a date for his return. He was named by British Cycling on Wednesday as one of the confirmed riders for the nationals.
Team manager Doug Ryder originally said the 'worst-case scenario' would be that Cavendish returns for the Critérium du Dauphiné or Tour de Suisse next week, ahead of the Tour. The team confirmed on Wednesday that Cavendish will not take part in either race.
Cavendish turned up at the Giro d'Italia in May as the race passed near his home, and he revealed he was doing regular sessions on the bike but had no idea when his body would kick the virus and he'd be able to return to competition.
"I can't put a definitive time on when I'm back. It could be 10 days, it could be one year, I really don't know," he said. "Some days I feel on top of the world, some days I don't, but at least I'm riding my bike and that's the main thing."
This year the British nationals take place on Cavendish’s native Isle of Man, so it is perhaps natural that he would want to take part – and that the organisers would want him there – and not necessarily an indication of his readiness for a full return to competition.
The Tour de France begins in Düsseldorf on July 1, a week after nationals, and Ryder said it would be "horrific" if the team were without Cavendish, who won four stages last year.