Does this mean end of the Road World Champs for the Manx Missile?

Manx Missile Mark Cavendish has withdrawn from the Tour of Missouri due to a lung infection. According to a statement released by Columbia-HTC team owner Bob Stapleton, “Mark has been fighting an infection since travelling to the USA which has spread to his lungs”.

Stapleton added that the star sprinter, who earlier this week confirmed he is staying with the team for the 2010 season, is on a course of antibiotics, and that he will spend a few days resting in Missouri before returning to Europe.

Cavendish won the first two stages of the race, giving him two days in the leader’s jersey, before losing it to Thor Hushovd of Cérvelo TestTeam who won yesterday’s Stage 3. The news that he won back-to-back stages while clearly not fully fit makes those victories all the more remarkable.

The news comes towards the end of an outstanding season for the 24-year-old, with highlights including six stage wins in the Tour de France, four, including the team time trial, in the Giro d’Italia, and victory in the Milan-San Remo. Monday’s win in Stage 1 of the Tour of Missouri took Cavendish to 50 career victories.

It’s not yet known how his illness will affect Cavendish’s plans for the rest of the season. The sprinter has provisionally been selected for the British team in the UCI Road World Championships in Mendrisio, Switzerland. But with the men’s road race taking place a fortnight on Sunday, there must now be a question mark over his participation.

Born in Scotland, Simon moved to London aged seven and now lives in the Oxfordshire Cotswolds with his miniature schnauzer, Elodie. He fell in love with cycling one Saturday morning in 1994 while living in Italy when Milan-San Remo went past his front door. A daily cycle commuter in London back before riding to work started to boom, he's been news editor at road.cc since 2009. Handily for work, he speaks French and Italian. He doesn't get to ride his Colnago as often as he'd like, and freely admits he's much more adept at cooking than fettling with bikes.