Mark Cavendish admits he didn’t feel ready to race at this year’s Tour de France

Mark Cavendish says he was not ready to compete at the Tour de France after being omitted from Bahrain-McLaren’s eight-man squad.

The 35-year-old began 2020 hoping to get a chance to add to his 30 career Tour stage wins, a total which leaves him only four short of Eddy Merckx’s all-time record, but he will miss the race for a second successive year after being short of race practice.

Team principal Rod Ellingworth has instead chosen a team focused heavily on the yellow jersey ambitions of Spaniard Mikel Landa, built around climbers including Wout Poels and Damiano Caruso.

“Team Bahrain-McLaren have put their Tour de France team out and I’m obviously not on the list,” Cavendish said in a video posted on his Twitter account.

“Some people are going to be happy about that, some people are going to be disappointed.

“Simply put, I just don’t feel I’m ready this year for the Tour de France. It’s the hardest parcours I’ve seen in my entire career and I’m a rider that needs a lot of races to get going.

“I just haven’t had that this year with Covid-19.

“But at Bahrain-McLaren we do have an incredible GC (general classification) contender with Mikel Landa and an incredibly team to support him, and I know I’ll be supporting the team from wherever I am.

“I’m super-excited for the rest of the year. We’ve got some good goals and some good races lined up and looking forward to using it to build into a big year next year too.”

Last year, Cavendish was controversially left out of Team Dimension Data’s squad after fighting his way back from the effects of the Epstein-Barr virus.

That decision, which came over the objections of the team’s own performance director Rolf Aldag, caused a breakdown in Cavendish’s relationship with the team – but 12 months on the situation is very different.

The loss of the first half of the season during the pandemic left Cavendish with little time to get the necessary racing needed to get back to his best.

The Manxman is instead working on a different race schedule in which all options – including the Giro d’Italia and Vuelta a Espana – are on the table.

The riders who are selected for the Tour will focus on taking the fight to Team Ineos in the battle for yellow, with Ellingworth, Landa and Poels all former employees of Sir Dave Brailsford.

Ellingworth said: “The Tour de France is the biggest moment of the year in cycling and I’m proud to say the entire team has done a great job getting us Tour ready.

Bahrain-McLaren Cycling Team Launch – McLaren Technology Centre
Bahrain-McLaren Cycling Team Launch – McLaren Technology Centre

“We are where we need to be, and I’m optimistic about what we can achieve.

“This year’s parcours is very well suited to Mikel, and his form is strong.

“The group we have chosen to support him represents our riders who are most suited to the parcours and Tour-ready.

“The past few months have been challenging for all riders to be race fit, and it’s a credit to all of our guys that we had such a strong line-up to choose from.”

The Tour, rescheduled due to the pandemic, begins next Saturday in Nice.