Road

Cavendish sidelined with Epstein-Barr virus, team says return unclear

The British sprinter's team says the illness was caused by a bout of the Epstein-Barr virus.

LONDON (AFP) — British star Mark Cavendish has been sidelined with a fatigue-inducing virus, his Dimension Data team said Wednesday.

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No date has been set for the return of Cavendish, 31, who has not raced since Milano-Sanremo on March 18.

His absence was first attributed to a cumulative right ankle injury. But further tests have revealed that Cavendish, a sprinter who has won 30 Tour de France stages, is suffering from mononucleosis caused by the Epstein-Barr virus.

“Mark has been experiencing some unexplained fatigue during training,” Dimension Data doctor Jarrad van Zuydam said in a statement.

“Unfortunately, there is no effective specific treatment against the virus but rest will be required to aid his recovery.

“It is difficult to give an accurate estimate of when we can expect him back at full fitness, but we are hopeful of a significant improvement of his symptoms over the next two weeks.”

Last year saw Cavendish win his first Olympic medal when, in his third Games, he took silver in the omnium in Rio de Janeiro as he combined his road career with a track program.

Cavendish, who hails from the Isle of Man off England’s northwest coast, is just four wins away from matching Tour de France great Eddy Merckx’s record of 34 stage wins.

This year’s tour starts in the German city of Dusseldorf on July 1. It’s unclear whether Cavendish will be healthy enough to race.

“His training load and symptoms will be monitored very carefully and he will make a gradual, step-wise return to full training and racing,” Van Zuydam said.

The team statement said the squad is “in full support of the Manxman and his ability to bounce back from this unfortunate setback.”