Cavendish, who sits second on the Tour de France’s all-time stage win list with 30 victories, said he’s simply not ready for this year’s challenging route.
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“Simply put, I don’t feel I’m ready this year for the Tour de France,” Cavendish said in a video message. “It’s the hardest parcours I’ve seen in my entire career, and I’m a rider that needs a lot of racing to get going. We haven’t had that this year with COVID-19.”
Indeed, the 2020 Tour de France route is teeming with climbing stages and hilly days, with just three flat stages that cater to heavy sprinters like Cavendish. Many of the sport’s top fast men are skipping the Tour de France this year entirely, with top sprinters Caleb Ewan (Lotto-Soudal), Arnaud Demaré (Groupama-FDJ), and Fernando Gaviria (UAE-Team Emirates) all opting to race the Giro d’Italia instead.
In its roster announcement, Bahrain-McLaren officials referenced the challenging Tour de France route as justification for its roster decision. The squad is bringing a team of climbers and rouleurs to help Mikel Landa make a run at the GC.
“With Bahrain-McLaren we do have an incredible GC contender with Mikel Landa,” Cavendish said. “And an incredibly strong team to support him — I know I’ll be supporting the team from wherever I am.”
Cavendish has taken on 14 total days of racing since the sport returned from the COVID-19 shutdown, and his results in that stretch have not hinted at top form for the sprinter. Cavendish left the Vuelta a Burgos with a 13th place in the sprint on stage 2 — he was well behind winner Fernando Gaviria (UAE-Team Emirates) in the dash to the line.
Cavendish again failed to crack the top-10 in the fast and furious sprints at the Tour of Poland, where he was 14th on the dramatic opening stage, which saw Fabio Jakobsen hospitalized after he crashed into a barrier on the high-speed finish. The next day Cavendish sprinted to 12th place.
At the recent Tour de Wallonie Cavendish finished well back on all four stages.
Cavendish has the 2020 European Road Championships on his list of upcoming races, however, the team has not divulged what the remainder of his 2020 season will entail. Cavendish said he plans to use the upcoming races to build his form in 2021.
“I’m looking forward. I’m super excited for the rest of the year,” Cavendish said. “We have some good goals, some good races lined up. I’m looking forward to using it to build into a big year next year, too.”