Mark Cavendish left 'heartbroken' after missing Tour de France selection

Mark Cavendish has reacted to Dimension Data's decision to leave him off the team's 2019 Tour de France roster, writing on Twitter that he is "heartbroken" by the decision.

"Well what can I say?" Cavendish wrote in the first of four linked tweets. "I’m absolutely heart-broken by the decision that means I won’t be @letour this year. As I have done for my entire career, I targeted a specific time to be at peak form. This has pretty much always resulted in me hitting my goals or coming damn close.

"Predominantly at the most beautiful, special race that is Le Tour de France, where 30 of these victories have defined my career. After a long, difficult fight back from trying to compete for the whole of last season with Epstein Barr Virus and after following a specific ... training program to peak in July, I feel I was in the perfect place," Cavendish wrote.

Cavendish was hoping to add to his tally of 30 Tour stage wins this year as he creeps ever closer to Eddy Merckx's all-time record of 34. Cavendish won four stages in 2016, but he was taken out by a crash early in 2017, and Epstein Barr held him back in 2018.

Cavendish has struggled to return to full strength so far this season, but he has raced 39 days in 2019 so far. He wasn’t pushing himself to compete for stage wins in those early races, finishing the Vuelta a San Juan and UAE Tour before abandoning Paris-Nice in the crosswinds on stage 2.

A third-place stage finish at the Tour of Turkey looked promising, and before the Tour of California in May, Cavendish declared his blood values showed he was below the threshold for being considered ill with Epstein Barr Virus for the first time in two years. However, he abandoned California on stage 7, and then at the Tour of Slovenia he failed to pick up a result. He raced the British national championships on June 30, finishing 22nd.

The effort to comeback and the promise of reach peak form for July were not enough to convince Dimension Data that he was ready for the Tour, however, and there was no spot for him on the eight-man roster. Despite confessing his heartbreak, Cavendish took it all in stride, choosing to focus on the charity at the heart of the team's mission and wishing his teammates good luck.

"Nevertheless, I truly came to @teamdidata with the purpose of making a difference, by mobilising entire communities in Africa with bicycles through our incredible charity @Quebuka," Cavendish wrote. "Though I won’t be there, as always I’ll be supporting my teammates with all I have, wishing them safety and success in France and hoping we can get even more children on bicycles. Thank you all for your support."

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