Mark Cavendish Tour de France record bid suffers blow as British cyclist is ruled out indefinitely by illness

 
Frank Dalleres
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Le Tour de France 2016 - Stage Fourteen
Cavendish has 30 Tour de France stage wins – four short of Eddy Merckx's record (Source: Getty)

British sprinter Mark Cavendish is facing disruption to his bid to equal the all-time record for Tour de France stage wins this season after he was diagnosed with glandular fever.

Cavendish, who was already nursing an ankle injury, fell ill after contracting the Epstein-Barr virus and now needs an indefinite period of recuperation, his team Dimension Data said.

The Manxman, who won Olympic silver on the track last year in Rio, has won 30 Tour stages and hopes to equal Eddy Merckx’s mark of 34 at this year’s race, which begins on 1 July.

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“It is obviously disappointing to have received this diagnosis and in particular to have had to alter my race schedule as a result,” said the 31-year-old.

“Looking back, I have not been feeling myself over the past few weeks during both training and racing and so I am pleased that we have now been able to get to the bottom as to why I’ve been feeling as I have.

“I will now be working hard to ensure I do everything I can to fully recover over the coming weeks to enable me to be fit and ready for the second half of the season.”

Team doctor Jarrad Van Zuydam said it was “difficult to give an accurate estimate” of when Cavendish might race again but said he hoped his symptoms would improve over the next fortnight.

“Mark has been experiencing some unexplained fatigue during training,” Van Zuydam added.

“Unfortunately, there is no effective specific treatment against the virus but rest will be required to aid his recovery. His training load and symptoms will be monitored very carefully and he will make a gradual, step-wise return to full training and racing.”

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