The saying goes that things come in threes, so for Mark Cavendish to have suffered a bout of glandular fever, breaking a shoulder on stage four of the Tour de France does not bode well for the coming months.
Having come through his spring illness – although how fit he was heading into the Tour we will now never know – the blow of a broken shoulder and an early exit from La Grande Boucle is the last thing he, or anyone to be fair, needed.
While the inquest into the crash that ended his Tour continues, Cavendish is left nursing his right shoulder once again ahead of his participation at Six Day London 2017.
Having dislocated his right collarbone in a crash during the sprint finish of stage one of Le Tour into Harrogate – where his mum is from – he has now broken the shoulder blade of the same shoulder and faces more time off the bike.
The good news is that his second enforced break of the year will give his body further time to fully recover from the Epstein Barr virus (AKA glandular fever) that knocked him for six earlier in the year.
Another positive is that a broken bone, providing it is a clean break, takes less time to heal than the body does to recover from an illness such as the one he had in March.
But for Cavendish, the injury leaves a bitter taste in the mouth having looked strong on the two sprint stages of Le Tour so far.
“I’m obviously massively disappointed to get this news about the fracture,” said the 32-year-old. “The team was incredible. They executed to perfection what we wanted to do in the morning.
“I feel I was in a good position to win and to lose that and even having to leave the Tour, a race I’ve built my whole career around, is really sad.
“I wish the best of luck to my teammates for the rest of the race. Now, I’m looking forward to watching the race on TV, seeing the team fly the flag high for South Africa and raise awareness for Qhubeka.”
Earlier this week Cavendish had spoken about how he would have hated having to watch the Tour on TV, rather than being in the thick of the racing.
— Le Tour de France (@LeTour) July 4, 2017
Sadly he is now resigned to watching from the sofa after Peter Sagan’s dubious move to the right and flailing elbow left Cavendish with no room to go other than into the barriers in Vittel as he looked to be finishing strongly on stage four.
Sagan was unceremoniously disqualified from the Tour – not just the stage, but the whole race – and while he went to the Dimension Data team bus to apologise to Cavendish, who gratefully accepted, the Manxman was still left wanting answers to one question.
“I was massively grateful that Peter came directly after the finish to see me, I have a good relationship with Peter.
“Even with the movement to the right, I wouldn’t be happy but that’s racing, but I was a little bit confused with the elbow – that’s something I’d like to speak to him about.
“In terms of his disqualification then that’s the jury’s decision, I’d just like to speak to him personally again, but I’m happy he came to see me after the race.
“I’m not angry, I’m just a little confused about the elbow.”
Cavendish will now have to wait another year for a shot at breaking Eddy Merckx’s all-time Tour de France stage winning record, but one thing is for sure – he’ll be fired up for 2018.