Cavendish, 34, has been battling the Epstein Barr virus for two years, being declared healthy again only this spring. His best result this year was a third place in a stage at the Tour of Turkey.
Since then, things have gone downhill again. He was not picked for the Tour de France, with head of performance Rolf Aldag supporting him but team principal Doug Ryder ultimately saying no. There was public controversy over that decision, and Cavendish declared himself to be “absolutely heartbroken”, adding that he had targeted his training to be at peak form for the Tour.
His next race was the Adriatica Ionica race in Italy the end of July. On the first stage, which ended in a reduced bunch sprint, he finished 105th, over nine minutes down on the winner after suffering a puncture. He abandoned the race on the second stage.
Cavendish, who is out of contract this year, will look to the first three stages in Poland, with support from long-time friend and teammate Bernhard Eisel and Jaco Venter. He will face competition in the sprints from Fernando Gaviria (UAE Team Emirates) and Pascal Ackermann (Bora-Hansgrohe).
Once the race moves into the mountains, the South African team will look to experienced climbers Ben O'Connor and Enrico Gasparotto. The line-up is rounded out by two neo-pros, Stefan de Bod and Gino Mader.
Dimension Data for Tour de Pologne: Mark Cavendish, Stefan De Bod, Bernhard Eisel, Enrico Gasparotto, Gino Mader, Ben O'Connor, Jaco Venter.