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Mark Cavendish still aiming for Tour de France stage win record after racing for 16 months with Epstein-Barr virus

Nervous he may have done ‘permanent damage’ by racing when not fit

After signing a contract extension with Team Dimension Data this week, Mark Cavendish revealed that he never actually overcame Epstein-Barr virus and spent 16 months racing with it following a misdiagnosis.

Cavendish was first diagnosed with infectious mononucleosis caused by the Epstein-Barr virus in April 2017.

He believed he’d suffered a second bout this August, but it turns out he never recovered.

“It’s not the second time I got it; it’s the same thing,” he told Cycling News at this week’s 2019 Tour de France presentation. “It was misdiagnosed. I was racing with it for 16 months, so I’ve actually done all right to win some races.

"So I’ve taken those positives but I’m nervous in case I’ve done so much damage. You have to watch it, but I’ve got a good group of people around me. The team believes in me and that’s a good thing to get going for next year."

Cavendish has 30 Tour de France stage wins to his name – second only to Eddy Merckx with 34.

“The Tour de France record, it’s no secret that it’s the one goal that I have left in cycling,” he said. “After winning 30 stages in my career, another four doesn’t seem that much, but I’ve always been the first one to say that winning one stage of the Tour de France is something that makes a rider’s career, so I know how difficult it could be to win another four; but I’m never going to stop trying.

“I firmly believe that I will get it and I believe with the best people around me that I have the best chance of getting it. The day that I don’t believe I can challenge to get that record is the day that I probably stop riding my bike.

“It seems that I’ve always made a career out of comebacks and I’m sure that 2019 is going to be no different after the couple of tough years with illness. I know that I’m on the right track to come back and dominate in the sport again.”

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