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Fired up: Mark Cavendish is eager to get back racing

Fired up: Mark Cavendish is eager to get back racing

PA

Fired up: Mark Cavendish is eager to get back racing

Mark Cavendish could be forgiven if he was sulking his way through the coronavirus shutdown.

The now curtailed cycling season started with high hopes for the Manxman after a period marked by illness, injury and frustration.

The 34-year-old has been locked inside his home gym before, all too recently, facing his own personal fight against the Epstein-Barr virus.

But this time it is different. Compared to what felt like long, lonely days in 2018 and 2019, Cavendish is in a positive mood.

"I'm actually winning," Cavendish said. "The unknown of when you're going back racing, I had that for two years, being on the indoor trainer, in the gym every day for two years.

"Okay, it was interspersed with some racing, but now I've been doing that and feeling good.

"I'm a racer, we're all racers. We want to go out and race, that's obvious. But it is what it is. There's worse problems in the world than a few athletes not being able to compete right now."

In 2016 Cavendish claimed the most recent of his 30 Tour de France stage wins before leaving the race a week early to travel to Rio, where he took Olympic silver in the omnium.

But after his 2017 Tour ended in a stage five crash, there followed a long battle with the Epstein-Barr virus, prolonged by an initial failure to diagnose it.

It was a period that changed Cavendish's perspective.

"It's not just been my physical health which has been dealt a blow over the last couple of years," he said.

"I've battled quite hard with depression during this time. It's nice to have come out of that, and to look for positives."

There is little doubt Cavendish has been in a better place following his move to Bahrain-McLaren, a team now headed by his old coach Rod Ellingworth.

"I'm loving it, absolutely loving it," Cavendish said. "Okay, we're not going anywhere to race right now, but there's a plan to the season, not just for me but for everybody."

Belfast Telegraph