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For the first time since he made his debut at the race in 2007, Mark Cavendish will not be at the start of the 2019 Tour de France. Dimension Data unveiled its roster for the upcoming Tour on Tuesday, and Cavendish was not included in the selection.
The team’s star sprinter was not mentioned in the announcement.
Cavendish has struggled to find form this season after his 2018 campaign was derailed by Epstein Barr, his second bout with the virus in two seasons. His last victory came in February of last year.
He has raced a relatively full calendar in 2019 and recently said that blood tests showed that he was over the virus, but Cavendish has rarely challenged for victories in the sprints this season. His best result was a third-place finish on a Tour of Turkey stage, and he rode a handful of other races in support of teammates.
In short, there was reasonable uncertainty over whether he would indeed make the team—but his non-selection for the Tour was only confirmed with Dimension Data’s roster unveiling, and Cavendish’s conspicuous absence. The announcement did not feature any clarification for why Dimension Data’s biggest name would miss out. Cavendish himself, however, did address the news via Twitter.
Sitting out this year’s Tour means that Cavendish will not be able to inch closer to Eddy Merckx’s record of 34 career stage victories there. Cavendish, currently with 30 on his palmares, seemed to be well-positioned to catch Merckx after the Manxman racked up four victories in 2016. Since then, he has not added to his tally.
Dimension Data’s Tour lineup will nonetheless feature a few capable stage hunters. The starting eight are Edvald Boasson Hagen, Lars Bak, Steve Cummings, Reinardt Janse van Rensburg, Ben King, Roman Kreuziger, Giacomo Nizzolo, and Michael Valgren.