Mark Cavendish is hoping bad things come in threes and that the worst is behind him as the sprinter plots a comeback sooner than expected.
The 32-year-old Cavendish, who’s been bedeviled by a trio of crashes this spring, will race the Tour de Yorkshire from May 3-6. That’s earlier than what was expected to be his return at the Amgen Tour of California for what will be his seventh start in the U.S. race. That will be followed by a likely start at the Tour of Slovenia and a return to the Tour de France in July.
“Results-wise, I’m not sure where my form will be actually only having had a couple of weeks back on the bike,” Cavendish said. “I’m delighted to have recovered sufficiently from my injuries at Milano-Sanremo to be back racing sooner than I initially thought.”
Cavendish last raced at Milano-Sanremo following a string of bad-luck crashes that left his spring campaign in tatters. At the Abu Dhabi Tour in February, Cavendish was knocked to the ground in the neutral start zone when an official’s car unexpectedly slowed down right in front of him. Even worse was a crash at Tirreno-Adriatico, when he fell heavily after striking a pothole in the team time trial stage. He finished with his jersey bloodied and torn, but was ruled “out of time” by the race jury.
Despite injuries, he started Sanremo only to suffer a harrowing impact with a traffic bollard. Cavendish was lucky to have not suffered worse injuries than a broken rib and injured ankle.
So far in 2018, Cavendish has won once — stage 3 at the Dubai Tour in February — and he will be keen to put some race miles into his legs before July. A string of setbacks have hampered Cavendish’s return to winning form ever since the controversial crash with Peter Sagan in last year’s Tour de France.
The Yorkshire tour will be Cavendish’s first time racing in the hometown region of his mother since the 2014 Tour de France. In that race, he crashed out with a dislocated shoulder in the opening stage into Harrogate.
“My mother’s from Harrogate and obviously the last time I raced things didn’t go that great [for me] in the 2014 Tour de France,” Cavendish said. “One thing I do remember is the incredible crowds and I know that the Tour de Yorkshire always provides.”
Cavendish’s teammate Serge Pauwels also confirmed he will return to defend his title in the Yorkshire race.
The Yorkshire tour was launched on the heels of the successful 2014 “grand depart” of that year’s Tour de France. The women’s race was awarded 1.2 status in 2016.