Mark Cavendish says that the pressure will be off him in next year’s road world championships in Yorkshire and has also spoken of how the mismanagement of his treatment for Epstein-Barr Virus [EBV] set back his recovery from the condition which has blighted his past two seasons.
The 33-year-old was talking to BBC Sport after undertaking a reconnaissance of the route of next September’s road world championship course, which finishes in Harrogate – his mother’s home town, and where he crashed on the opening stage of the 2014 Tour de France.
The Dimension Data rider, who was racing with Quick Step at the time, had gone into that stage as a strong favourite to take the first yellow jersey of the race.
Much of next year’s parcours follows the route used in the 2014 Grand Depart, but crucially there is a tough circuit covering 90 kilometres over seven laps.
Cavendish, who in Copenhagen in 2011 became only the second Briton after Tom Simpson in 1965 to win the rainbow jersey, said: "Probably without the crash I was dead cert to win the first stage of the Tour de France.
"This is going to be a slightly different dynamic of race. I won't have as much pressure as 2014 when the Tour de France came here.”
The Manxman missed this year’s world championships in Innsbruck-Tirol but contrasted the Yorkshire course with the ones used in the previous three editions, all won by Peter Sagan, with Cavendish runner-up to the Slovak in Qatar in 2016.
“I don't think it's as straightforward as I'd say it was in Qatar or even Richmond [in 2015] or Bergen ,” he said.
"It's doable but mainly because of the strength we have now as a nation,” he added. “We have a lot of options to play."
Referring to his illness, he said: "As it wasn't managed properly I've done myself more and more damage, but I seem to be training all right and it's behind me now, hopefully."
It’s the second time he has been diagnosed with the strength-sapping condition.
"I'm all right I think now but you never know with Epstein Barr," he explained.
"A broken bone – you know when you'll be back. Even most illnesses you know that.
"But it takes a real expert to understand EBV and when you're through it," he added.
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.