The Tour of Slovenia marks the first race since Milan-San Remo for Mark Cavendish as the Dimension Data rider returns from Epstein-Barr Virus. Speaking at the pre-race press conference in Ljubljana, Cavendish explained he starts with low-level ambitions for the four-stage race.
"Racing is always the best test for every athlete, desire for victory drives you much harder than anything on the normal training, where you push as hard as possible, but there is not that atmosphere of the competition," said Cavendish.
"I'm feeling healthy, I hope I'll race till Sunday. I wasn't here for a very long time when I was in this race for the first time, but the country is very beautiful and I noticed that the people are very warm."
Cavendish started his season at the Dubai Tour with three top-tens before heading to Europe for the Volta ao Algarve em Bicicleta. In Portugal, Cavendish's best result was Lagos on stage 1. He then returned to the Gulf state where he won stage 1 of the Abu Dhabi Tour and sealed the points classification. Tirreno-Adriatico and Milan-San Remo followed before an ankle injury ruled him out of Paris-Roubaix.
The 32-year-old was then diagnosed with Epstein-Barr Virus in mid-April and explained that he has struggled to rest without a definitive return date. He added that his place in Dimension Data's Tour de France team is still up for discussion.
Past months were not easy, it's hard to go to bed every evening and thinking about how long it will take to get over it. With some people it takes months, with some ten years," said Cavendish. "You don't know when you'll get better and that is very hard to deal with. I don't have any special goals for this race, I just want to see where I am and maybe finish it. I also can't say much regarding Tour, I don't know if I will go there."
With the team taking a heavy sprint squad into the race, Cavendish explained that he won't be asking for leadership.
"As a team we have come here to win but the team is definitely not built around me," he said of the objectives. "We have young Ryan Gibbons and Kristian Sbaragli for the sprints and Jacques Janse van Rensburg for the mountain stage. Personally, I just want to make sure I'm part of the victory in whichever way I can be."
The Tour of Slovenia starts Thursday with a 159.4km stage from Koper to Kočevje and concludes Sunday, June 18 with a 160km stage from Rogaška Slatina to Novo Mesto.