Mark Cavendish will not take part in the Tour de France this year and has been left ‘absolutely heart-broken’ by his omission.
It will be the first time since 2007 the ‘Fastest Man on Two Wheels’ will not compete, depriving fans from watching one of cycling’s great racers.
Cavendish has won 30 stages – four short of Eddy Merckx’s record – but his team, Dimension Data, confirmed recently the 34-year-old won’t be part of their squad with team principal Doug Ryder having the final decision.
It has been widely reported that Dimension Data head of performance, Rolf Aldag, wanted to select Cavendish for the Tour, but was overruled by Ryder.
It mean’s Cavendish will not have the chance to make history at the Tour.
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Cavendish has been plagued by the Epstein-Barr virus in recent years but believed he had proved his fitness and felt as good as he had done in 2016 when he won four stages.
Cavendish posted on social media: “Well what can I say? I’m absolutely heart-broken by the decision that means I won’t be at Tour this year.
“As I have done my entire career, I targeted a specific time to be at peak form.
“After following a specific training programme to peak in July, I feel I was in the perfect place.
“Though I won’t be there, as always I’ll be supporting my team-mates with all I have.”
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Edvald Boasson Hagen, Stephen Cummings, Reinardt Janse Van Rensburg, Michael Valgren, Roman Kreuziger, Giacomo Nizzolo, Ben King, and Lars Bak have been selected ahead of Cavendish.
Ryder said in a statement: “Really excited to announce this great group of riders who we feel will be the best suited to meet the team’s objectives we have set out for this year’s Tour de France.”
On Cavendish’ omission, a Dimension Data spokesman later added: “Selection for our tour squad was a highly competitive process and one in which a panel weighed up the options provided to us not only by Mark but indeed all of our riders.
“As you’d expect among a selection panel, there were a number of different preferences of the final squad make up with our team principal, Douglas Ryder, making the final decision on it.”
The 106th edition of the Tour de France gets under way on Saturday ahead of 23 days of gruelling action.
Reigning champion and Team Ineos star Geraint Thomas will lead the way in the 21 stages starting in Bruxelles, Belgium and culminating at the Champs-Elysees in Paris on Sunday 28 July.