Mark Cavendish: This has been the toughest season of my career

Mark Cavendish will race on the road until Paris-Tours (October 10) and then ride the London Six-Day (October 24-29) as he comes to the end of an illness and injury-hit season that he described as the toughest of his career.

Cavendish completed the hilly two-day Giro della Toscana on Wednesday and lined up for the equally tough Coppa Sabatini race on Thursday, happy to play a domestique role for Dimension Data and clock up the hard miles.

He admits he will have little chance of adding to his tally of just one victory in 2017 but needs the racing after missing so much of the season.

"I've got to keep racing this year, so that I don't affect next year. I've had so little racing due to my illness and injuries that I've got to carry on through. I'm not chasing success, I'm realistic about that, I'm just going to ride my bike and help the team," Cavendish told Cyclingnews and La Gazzetta dello Sport in Tuscany.

"I'm going to race on the road until Paris-Tours. I'd even considered riding the Tour of Guangxi but it clashes with the London Six Day, which I'm riding with Pete Kennaugh."

Cavendish won a stage at the Abu Dhabi Tour in February and seemed set for another successful season. However, he struggled at Tirreno-Adriatico and was eventually diagnosed with Epstein-Barr virus (Mononucleosis) in mid-April.

He spent the spring carefully recovering from the virus but managed to comeback to ride the Tour de France. He crashed while sprinting for victory on stage 4 to Vittel, however, after Peter Sagan changed his line as the Manxman was moving up along the barriers. Sagan was disqualified from the race, while Cavendish suffered a broken shoulder blade that needed several weeks off the bike and a careful recovery.

Cavendish returned to racing at the Tour of Britain in September but his injuries scuppered any hopes of being fit enough to ride the World Championships in Bergen. He has spent more time recovering from illness and injury than he has racing this season, twice starting his season from scratch.

"This has been my toughest season," Cavendish admitted. "There's only so much you can do before it affects you in the head. I'm pretty strong mentally but it's been hard this time. I still love riding my bike but it's hard when you're chasing form. It's my job as well as my passion in life, so I have to get on with it. I'm still motivated."

Watching the World Championships

Cavendish watched the World Championships at home on television, taking to Twitter to share his expert insight on the racing. He had particular praise for the women's racing, describing the women's road race as the most exciting race of the week.

"I would have loved to have been there. After my Epstein-Barr illness, my goal was being good for the Worlds but then I crashed at the Tour…" Cavendish said.

"The women are rightly starting to get more coverage. It's not as much as the men, so there's still work to do, but when you get an exciting race as we saw at the World Championships, it's the best possible platform to showcase women's cycling."

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Stephen Farrand
Head of News

Stephen is the most experienced member of the Cyclingnews team, having reported on professional cycling since 1994. He has been Head of News at Cyclingnews since 2022, before which he held the position of European editor since 2012 and previously worked for Reuters, Shift Active Media, and CyclingWeekly, among other publications.