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Epstein-Barr virus keeps Mark Cavendish from riding, he'll miss the Tour of Britain

Joe Robinson
29 Aug 2018

Illness prevents Cavendish and Marcel Kittel from racing as both look to reboot disappointing seasons

Mark Cavendish (Dimension Data) and Marcel Kittel (Katusha-Alpecin) have both pulled out of the Tour of Britain through illness just days before the race begins in Pembury Country Park, Wales. This latest setback continues a disastrous season for the pair who have managed only two WorldTour victories between them in 2018, both to Kittel.

Dimension Data confirmed that Cavendish's absence from racing would continue as medical results indicated that the rider had been racing and training with the Epstein-Barr virus for the past few months, with doctors advising an indefinite break from the bike. 

The Manxman commented on his illness, saying, 'This season I’ve not felt physically myself and despite showing good numbers on the bike I have felt that there’s been something not right.

'Given this and on the back of these medical results, I'm glad to now finally have some clarity as to why I haven't been able to perform at my optimum level during this time.

'I’m now looking forward to taking the time necessary in order to get back to 100% fitness before then returning to racing again at peak physical condition.'

This diagnosis does bring some clarity to the situation, as Cavendish himself recognises, but without a timeline for a return, it is hard to see the sprinter racing on the road again this season.

Kittel has joined Cavendish in being unable to race due to ill health. The German abandoned the BinckBank Tour on the penultimate stage before then withdrawing from his home Deutschland Tour after the opening day last week. 

Many had speculated as to Kittel's recent poor performances had been due to an inability to fit in at Katusha-Alpecin, the team he joined at the beginning of the season. 

With only two victories at Tirreno-Adriatico to his name in 2018, the 30-year-old is a shadow of his former self. In 2017, Kittel took 14 victories including five stages of the Tour de France.

Yet the rider himself believes that this year's poor form is due to illness. 

'Unfortunately for precautionary reasons, I won’t start in the Tour of Britain on Sunday,' Kittel said.

'In my current situation, it makes no sense to race. I have to wait for the results of further examinations. The risk would be too high.'

Illness, injury and poor form for both Kittel and Cavendish have materialised into seasons to forget with both only managing three wins in total between them all season.  

This will also be the first season since 2007 that neither Cavendish or Kittel have managed to take a victory in a Grand Tour.