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Mark Cavendish says "pressure off" in next year's world championships - and that mistreatment of illness hampered recovery

Ex-world champ says there won't be same expectations as when Tour de France hit Harrogate in 2011...

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 [2017],” 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.

Simon joined as news editor in 2009 and is now the site’s community editor, acting as a link between the team producing the content and our readers. A law and languages graduate, published translator and former retail analyst, he has reported on issues as diverse as cycling-related court cases, anti-doping investigations, the latest developments in the bike industry and the sport’s biggest races. Now back in London full-time after 15 years living in Oxford and Cambridge, he loves cycling along the Thames but misses having his former riding buddy, Elodie the miniature schnauzer, in the basket in front of him.

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HarrogateSpa | 5 years ago

I think the course is too hard for a pure sprinter like Cavendish. Probably Sagan can still be there at the end and win. I might put 50p on John Degenkolb.

Kendalred replied to HarrogateSpa | 5 years ago

HarrogateSpa wrote:

I think the course is too hard for a pure sprinter like Cavendish. Probably Sagan can still be there at the end and win. I might put 50p on John Degenkolb.

A whole Ten Bob? Now that is a Yorkshireman's wager!

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