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Mark Cavendish says he has successfully come through a two-year battle with clinical depression revealing on Monday he was “dark” but is now on the “other side”.
The 34-year-old is just four stage wins shy of equalling Belgian legend Eddie Mercx’s record of 34 stage victories in the Tour de France.
However, with the coronavirus pandemic playing havoc with the sporting calendar — both Euro 2020 and the Olympics have been postponed for a year — there is no guarantee the Isle of Man-born rider will get a chance to have a go at the record this year.
The Tour is due to start on June 27. Cavendish, though, is just happy that should the Tour go ahead he will be in a healthy state of mind for the challenge facing him.
“It’s not just been my physical health which has been dealt a blow over the last couple of years,” he told The Times. “I’ve battled quite hard with depression during this time. I was diagnosed with clinical depression in August 2018.”
Cavendish said he refused to take anti-depressants but did seek expert counselling.
“I didn’t take any medication,” he said.
“Like, this isn’t the time or place — we’ll do a thing on it at some point — but I received help.
“I was dark. And I’m on the other side, thank you.
“Well, as much as I can be. I think I’ve come out of that. And it’s nice to have come out of that.
“And to look for the positives.”
Not many positives can be taken from the coronavirus pandemic but Cavendish has found one.
He is presently back at home in the Isle of Man having agreed like his Bahrain McLaren team-mates to take a wage deferral for three months the size of which is dependent on income and individual circumstances.
“It could have been easy for me to go through my whole career and only see the kids once they’re teenagers,” said the father of three and who has a stepson.
“So to be able to absorb this… to be able to do what mums and dads do, it keeps me happy, it keeps me super motivated, and it keeps me sane I guess.”
His old mentor Rod Ellingworth believes Cavendish was not far off the form of his peak year in 2016 when he won four stages on the Tour de France.
Ellingworth should know as the two have been reunited with Cavendish at the
Bahrain McLaren team.
“His form is not like 2016 but he’s getting there,” said Ellingworth, who is the team general manager.
“If that was 10 out of 10, he’s somewhere like seven at the minute.
“He came to us one or two out of 10, that’s physical, mental and the passion for it.
“So he’s progressing really well.”