After two seasons blighted by illness and injury, Mark Cavendish said that he’s forgotten what it feels like to be normal but the Manxman is happy to be racing again.
After starting his 2019 season at the Vuelta a San Juan, Cavendish is continuing his comeback with Dimension Data this week at the UAE Tour. Prior to San Juan, Cavendish had not raced since the RideLondon Surrey-Classic at the end of July, following further problems with Epstein Barr virus. The Manxman was been forced to miss much of the opening part of the 2017 season due to the virus. He also affected by crashes at three consecutive races at the start of last season - which also left him with a concussion, then the Epstein Barr virus forced him to take further time away.
Cavendish said that the multiple setbacks had been frustrating and suggested that a misdiagnosis by doctors had added to his woes.
“I don’t really remember what it's like to feel normal any more after misdiagnoses of being sick for two years,” Cavendish said at the team presentation for the UAE Tour in Abu Dhabi.
“I can just try, that’s all I do, the UAE Tour gives a perfect opportunity for a week-long race and it just happens to be in a place that I love being. At least I can do it and if things are bad I’m still happy.
“Your health is the most important thing. My family is healthy at home and I can just try and get back on it. It’s frustrating because it’s not my fault. It was a mess-up with the doctors, who should have known better, but what can you do?”
Cavendish is one of several top sprinters in the Middle East for the inaugural UAE Tour, including Elia Viviani (Deceuninck-QuickStep), Fernando Gaviria (UAE Team Emirates) and Marcel Kittel (Katusha-Alpecin).
There are three clear chances for the sprinters during the coming week and Cavendish is keen to have a go but he explained that he’s also here to play a team role and get Dimension Data’s GC riders Roman Kreuziger, Louis Meintjes and Amanuel Ghebreigzabhier towards the top of the standings and so secure important WorldTour ranking points.
“I’m really looking forward to it. It’s a WorldTour race and my team have come here with a GC team, so my job will be to get them into the foot of the climbs and I’ll try my best in the sprint,” Cavendish said. “I’ll see what I can do but we’re here for GC we’re here to get our three guys into the top 20.
“I’ll try my best, the efforts here will hopefully help with getting the top end back and we’ll see where it goes after that.”