Mark Cavendish has missed out on a place at the Tour de France after his Quick Step-Alpha Vinyl team today confirmed its line-up for the three-week race, with the Manxman instead named one of two reserves ahead of the race starting in Copenhagen on Friday.
The 37-year-old yesterday put in a storming ride to win the British national road race title for the second time in his career following a thrilling race in Dumfries & Galloway.
But that wasn’t enough to persuade team bosses to take him to the Tour, with team-mate Fabio Jakobsen set to spearhead Quick Step-Alpha Vinyl’s sprint challenge as the Dutchman makes his debut in the French Grand Tour.
By missing out on the race Cavendish – who last year won four stages and the points classification – misses out on the chance to try and claim the outright record for most career Tour de France stage wins.
He is currently tied on 34 stage victories with Eddy Merckx, the last coming 12 months ago in Carcassonne, which also hosts the finish of Stage 15 of this year’s race.
He was subsequently denied a potential 35th win on the final day in Paris, finishing third as Jumbo Visma’s Wout van Aert claimed victory on the Champs-Élysées, with Jesper Philipsen of Alpecin-Fenix second.
Speaking to a TV camera yesterday shortly after claiming his second national road title, Cavendish said: “Can you imagine winning your 35th Tour de France stage in the British champion's jersey? It would be pretty beautiful.”
Calls for team boss Patrick Lefevere to name Cavendish in the squad intensified after yesterday’s race, with ex-pro turned TV pundit David Millar for instance saying it would be “insanity” to leave him out.
Instead, however, Cavendish and Florian Sénéchal – who yesterday won the French road race title – have been named as reserves for the team should injury, illness or some other misfortune affect any of the riders named in the Quick Step-Alpha Vinyl line-up.
Sports director Tom Steels said: “Concerning our reserves, we must stress out that they showed a lot of professionalism, continued to train and remained focused in these past couple of weeks, and even brought two victories at the Nationals.”
Also missing from the team is world champion Julian Alaphilippe, who only returned to racing yesterday, two months on from his horrific crash at Liège–Bastogne–Liège.
“The decision to leave Julian home was a very difficult one,” explained Steels, adding that “for a rider like him it’s always important to be on top of his game and be able to compete with the best riders of the peloton in a race like Le Tour.
“That’s why we decided to give him more time to recover and build back his condition, so that he can be at 100 per cent.”
Jakobsen, who has raced the Vuelta a Espana twice, claiming five stage wins, will have Michael Mørkøv as his lead-out at the Tour, one of three Danes who will start the race in Copenhagen – the others being Kasper Asgreen and Mikkel Honoré.
The team’s roster for the race will be completed by Andrea Bagioli, Mattia Cattaneo, Tim Declercq and Yves Lampaert.
“We have riders who can support Fabio, riders who can climb, but who can also do something in the breakaways,” Steels said.
“Kasper, Yves and Michael will form a solid lead-out train for Fabio, who has proved how fast and strong he is in the sprints and will now get to discover Le Tour.
“Tim will be the guy to help him not only on the flat, but also in the mountains, where he’ll take care that Fabio makes it inside the time limit.”
Simon joined road.cc 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.