Former professional Michael Rogers believes that Dimension Data's Mark Cavendish can recover from a recent bout of the Epstein-Barr Virus and return to his best form. Rogers, who rode with Cavendish for several years at HTC-Highroad, was diagnosed with the condition on three separate occasions during his long career but returned to full health on each occasion.
"I'm sure that Mark's in contact with the best people who have knowledge on it and that he's doing the right thing but it just comes down to time and letting your body rest and rejuvenate back to it's normal self," Rogers told Cyclingnews from his home in Europe.
News of Cavendish's health was announced last week, and although he has started the process of healing it's unclear as to whether he will return in time for the Tour de France. The French Grand Tour was his main focus for the year, and while he and his team will be hoping that he recovers in time, they will not be able to rush their sprinter back to health. Rogers lost several months of racing each time he was diagnosed, in 2001, 2007 and 2011, but every case is different and Cavendish's Dimension Data teammate Jacobus Venter returned recently, having missed just a few weeks of racing.
"Without knowing the specifics of Mark's case, whether it's a strong or mild bout, it's hard to say, but it's something that can easily sneak up on you, especially if you're going hard with the training and the racing through the seasons and year after year," Rogers said.
"Any added pressure won't help at all. Mark just needs to take the time out and get well. I'm sure he'll be back to his best within a short amount of time.
"I was rather susceptible to it. They found it in blood tests and I remember feeling flat. The seasons weren't going well and I remember back in 2011, and I was dropped in the Australian national championships with a couple of hours racing still to go. I had a blood test and they found the anti-bodies. I was training hard, not resting and I just had to wait it out. There's not much you can do."
In 2008, the second time Rogers was diagnosed with the virus, he lost almost half a season of competition but he came back strong in the second half of the campaign.
"It took a good half of the season for me to get back to where I had been. I think my first race back was Catalunya, when it was still in May and I skipped the Tour and did the Olympics, where I finished sixth in the Olympics.
"In 2011 I was just pushing it too much and trained too hard in the off-season. The seasons now are getting longer and longer, and the general pattern that I see is that rider try and get ready for early-season races and there's more pressure on riders to train earlier and rest less. That takes it's toll and if you don't let your body recover from the fatigue it's under then your health gives up."