Mark Cavendish’s years of Tour de France racing may be over, the general manager of his Bahrain-McLaren team, Rod Ellingworth, has acknowledged.
“It’s hard to say,” Ellingworth said, when asked if multiple stage winner and former world champion, Cavendish, who was omitted from Ellingworth’s team selection for this year’s race, would ever return to the Tour.
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“Unfortunately for him, this situation we’ve found ourselves in, not racing, went against him. If you’ve spent two years off the bike having lots of problems you need a consistent period of time to get yourself back to a decent level.
“He was quite rightfully upfront to say he wasn’t ready for this year’s Tour, and we’ll keep working. Time will tell.”
Meanwhile, the defending Tour champion, Egan Bernal, will go into this year’s race, which begins on Saturday, nursing a back injury that forced him to abandon his last race, the Critérium du Dauphiné, two weeks ago.
“I feel a little bit of pain in the back to be honest,” Bernal said, speaking in Nice. “I’m much better than I was. In the Dauphiné, the pain was really bad. I’m feeling much better and I hope during the whole Tour to be working hard and trying to recover, especially for the last week.”
After he quit the Critérium du Dauphiné with two stages remaining, there was speculation that Bernal’s injury was so severe that his participation was in doubt. In turn, that fuelled rumours of a leadership crisis within the Ineos Grenadiers team, when both Chris Froome and Geraint Thomas were omitted from the team’s Tour lineup due to a lack of form.
But Bernal is not the only contender nursing his wounds. His main rival, Primoz Roglic, is still sporting bandages from his own crash in the Dauphiné, while Max Schachmann, who won this year’s Paris-Nice, suffered a broken collarbone when he was hit by a rogue car in the Tour of Lombardy.