Mark Renshaw is remaining optimistic after being diagnosed with Epstein Barr virus earlier this month. The Bathurst rider hopes the changes brought about by his illness will hold him in good stead for the International Cycling Union (UCI) World Road Championships in October.
Renshaw hopes to be selected for the squad, with the event to take place in Geelong, Melbourne. He’s been forced to miss traditional season-opening races Jayco Bay Series and Tour Down Under, with doctors ordering Renshaw to rest until mid-February to assist with recovery from the virus.
"While I feel a little frustrated that I won't be racing at home this summer, it means that I can also concentrate on earning selection in the national team for the world road championships back in Victoria in October,” Renshaw told The Australian. "That's easier said than done. There are a lot of very good riders around, but if I was British, I reckon I'd be the second rider picked behind Mark Cavendish.
"My goals now are to be race-fit for the Tours of California and Switzerland in the lead-up to working again for `Cav' at the Tour de France,” he added.
Renshaw’s compatriot Michael Rogers suffered from Epstein Barr in 2008, which destroyed the first half of his season. While the virus is remarkably common throughout the general population, athletes in particular need to recuperate thoroughly before returning to competition to ensure the virus doesn’t linger.
"The condition I've got is a viral infection, which means it doesn't respond to antibiotics,” he said. "The best way to fight the problem is with lots of rest and drinking plenty of fluids. The doctors have told me to have a complete break off the bike until mid-February."
Renshaw won a stage en route to overall victory at the 2008 Jayco Bay Series. He added to that success later in the month by winning the Tour Down Under’s opening stage to Angaston.