Cancellara backs Cavendish to claim more stage wins

Fabian Cancellara has backed Mark Cavendish to get back to winning ways in 2019 after nearly two years since the Manxman's last victory at World Tour level.

Cavendish has not won a stage at the top tier since the 2017 Abu Dhabi Tour as injuries and illness have hampered his battle to stay competitive with cycling's top sprinters.

The 33-year-old was diagnosed with Epstein-Barr virus after his triumph in Abu Dhabi, then suffered a fractured shoulder blade at the Tour de France following a collision with Peter Sagan.

Last season saw Cavendish continue to compete but a broken rib – as well as ankle ligament problems - meant his hopes of closing the gap to Eddy Merckx for stage wins at the Tour evaporated.

Cavendish finished his 2018 season early on medical advice after a second Epstein-Barr diagnosis, but made his return at the Vuelta a San Juan last month.

He came home eighth after the opening-stage sprint in Argentina and Cancellara believes his former rival – who is four stage wins short of Merckx's Tour record of 34 - could be set for a positive year.

"As long as he's hungry [he can win again]," Cancellara told Omnisport at the Laureus World Sports Awards 2019.

"I think that if he finds the balance it just makes him stronger, if it makes him stronger then he will win races [again], simple. 

"I believe in Cav, he will come back and he will do it."

One man who is likely to make Cavendish's task much harder is Sagan, who Cancellara described as a complete rider.

He added: "Peter is a super rider, super competitive, he's good in all variations but it's not only Peter Sagan, he has strong [riders] around him. 

"He is always the man to watch. He's strong on sprints, he can attack, he can ride alone, he can climb until a certain level, he has all he needs to be strong and combative [in 2019]."

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